Feds issue employer's guide for Family and Medical Leave Act compliance
The U.S. Department of Labor recently issued "The Employer’s Guide to The Family and Medical Leave Act" to assist employers with compliance.
According to the DOL, the guide is intended to provide employers with “essential information about the FMLA, including information about employers’ obligations under the law and the options available to employers in administering leave under the FMLA.”
The guide is organized to correspond to the order of events from the time an employee requests FMLA leave to an employee’s return from that leave. It also includes helpful “Did You Know?” sections, hyperlinks to applicable portions of the DOL website, and visual aids to assist employers with fully complying with the FMLA.
The guide is 76 pages and can downloaded here.
Proceed with caution
While the publication is a helpful resource for employers concerning FMLA issues, as with any governmental guidance from the DOL, EEOC or other regulatory agency, some of the assertions or requirements may be found to be incorrect should an employer challenge the DOL in a legal proceeding and a court determines the DOL exceeded its authority.
Despite being able to use the guide as a helpful resource, employers should still be sure to contact their legal counsel concerning FMLA questions since there are numerous issues, including potential compliance requirements involving other laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, that may not be fully explained or addressed.
In a related development, the DOL also issued a new poster that summarizes the major provisions of the FMLA. A copy of the poster can be found here.
The DOL believes the new poster is more reader-friendly, and coincidentally, it now prominently highlights the DOL’s contact information so that employees know how to file a complaint. Even though the DOL has issued a new poster, the agency states that “the February 2013 version of the FMLA poster is still good and can be used to fulfill the posting requirement.” Therefore, there is no requirement at this time to display the newly issued poster.
Since the DOL has undertaken efforts to publish an extensive guide concerning FMLA compliance and is emphasizing its contact information to employees so they are able to file a complaint, it appears the DOL is likely to increase its enforcement going forward.
Employers are urged to make sure their FMLA policies are current, they are using the proper forms for processing FMLA leave requests and are satisfying the required deadlines.