FMLA compliance: Employers must make it a top priority

FMLA A resource in times of joy and hardship equally, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects employees with the time off and job protection they need when work must be put aside for personal concerns.

In most applicable cases, FMLA guarantees eligible employees 12 work weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for a covered medical or personal reason. FMLA covers employees caring for newborns. It also covers employees caring for spouses, children or parents dealing with serious health issues. Furthermore, FMLA protects employees who cannot work because of a health concern. (The United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has put together a helpful primer on FMLA coverage and rights that should be a helpful starting point for companies and for workers.)

FMLA, per federal rules, covers employees who have worked at least 12 months and 1,250 hours of work with the employee before taking leave. Employees must work at a firm with 50 employees in a 75-mile area of the employment location.

Employers subject to FMLA include private-sector firms with “50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year, including a joint employer or successor in interest to a covered employer,” according to the Wage and Hour Division. All schools and federal and state agencies are also covered by FMLA.

Employers who don’t follow FMLA requirements could find themselves facing an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claim or other legal action. Overall, nearly 90,000 workplace discrimination charges were received by the EEOC in fiscal 2015.

Also, The Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law has found that family responsibilities discrimination case filings – suits related to an “employee’s caregiving obligations” have increased by 269 percent over the past 10 years, according to a 2016 study by the college. Also, employees prevail in two-thirds of caregiving discrimination suits that make it to trial, per the study.

For more on the FMLA compliance landscape, contact The Plexus Groupe at 847-307-6100 (Chicago) or 972-770-5010 (Dallas), or reach out to us via the Web.