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FMLA Leave and Administration

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is one of several centerpiece employment laws requiring regular attention and administration for employers with 50 or more employees. Employers with less than 50 employees, who are not covered by federal FMLA, should also be aware of best practices for leave of absence requests.  Undoubtedly the FMLA has seen its share of changes over the years, but it is clear the law is here to stay.  A review of a few key areas can bring an employer a long way toward improved compliance.

Ensure You Have Effective State Law Coordination.  Many states have their own version of FMLA and, like other laws, employers are required to assure the most generous coverage is provided to employees.  That said, running leaves concurrently under both laws will go a long way to ensuring individuals only get coverage to which they are entitled.

Make Sure Notices Are in Place.  Employers should check if the latest poster is displayed with other labor law notices for employees.  The last FMLA poster revision was in 2013, and the Department of Labor has announced a revised one will be coming out soon.  In addition to the poster, employers should make sure they have all the required notices at their fingertips when an employee may be taking leave under FMLA.

Establish Consistent Rules for Administration.  Companies should make sure in advance they know what 12-month measurement period they use to count FMLA leave taken (e.g., calendar year, measure forward, rolling backward).

Arrange Premium Contributions in Advance.  The FMLA has fairly specific rules about how benefit premium contributions can be taken in anticipation of a leave of absence.  Options include pre-pay, pay-as-you-go, and catch-up contributions.  Furthermore, it’s important to understand restrictions related to when pre-tax contributions are allowed and how an employee should handle any missed premiums under a pay-as-you-go arrangement.  Employers with less than 50 employees should also be aware of the pre-tax rules when an employee pays for benefits in advance of leave.

Be Prepared for Reduced Schedule and Intermittent Leave.  This type of leave under FMLA can be difficult for some employers to handle, but understanding the restrictions might avoid over-accommodating a need for reduced schedule or intermittent leave.

Don’t Over Promise.  Whether through a desire to be flexible or family-friendly, some companies offer leave beyond what is required under FMLA, and those with less than 50 employees sometimes make statements that they offer leave under FMLA even though not required.  Both promises have the potential to cause headaches.

The previous items are a sample of many key FMLA and other leave management considerations.  If you’d like to discuss further FMLA and leave administration at your organization, please contact The Payroll Company HR Services team at 877-763-5111.