Family and Medical Leave Act

From: Safety & Health

Family and Medical Leave Act

Since its enactment in 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has been the bedrock of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) efforts to protect workers who need to take a prolonged absence due to a qualified family or medical reason. This law was enacted so employees could deal with serious and potentially unexpected life circumstances without losing their jobs. It was established on the principle that no worker in the United States should have to choose between their job and their health or that of their family. Since its enactment, workers have relied on the FMLA more than 100 million times to balance their employment demands with the needs of their and their families’ health.

The FMLA allows eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. Employers can better support their workforce by recognizing situations where employees may need FMLA leave. In contrast, employers who do not comply with the FMLA can find themselves in difficult and costly legal situations. The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is authorized to investigate FMLA complaints. If employer violations cannot be satisfactorily resolved, the DOL may bring court action against the employer to compel compliance. An employee also may be able to initiate a private civil action against their employer for FMLA violations, which can be particularly costly, as they may involve paying back employees’ lost wages and reinstating benefits. At the start of 2022, the DOL announced an initiative to hire 100 additional WHD investigators, signaling a potential increase in enforcement in 2022 and beyond. This initiative means now is the time for employers to review their FMLA policies and practices to ensure they comply with all relevant laws.

Employers can use this HR Toolkit to help establish procedures and improve FMLA compliance. It provides an overview of the FMLA, including employer and employee requirements, and explores workplace strategies employers can implement to improve their internal FMLA processes. This toolkit also provides several valuable resources, but they are only a sampling of those that are offered. For additional FMLA-related resources, employers can contact George Belcher Evans & Wilmer.

By understanding the FMLA requirements detailed in this toolkit, employers can better support their workforce and avoid potential violations. In many situations, employees may be entitled to protections under other federal employment laws, state family and medical leave laws, and collective bargaining agreements. This HR Toolkit provides a broad overview of the FMLA and should not be construed as legal advice. Employers are encouraged to seek legal counsel to address specific concerns or issues.

Download the Toolkit here: HR Toolkit – Family and Medical Leave Act