Common FMLA Mistakes

It is commonly known that the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) requires covered employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to eligible employees. What may not be as well-known are the FMLA’s technical requirements, which can present dangerous traps for the unsuspecting. Here are a few of the most common FMLA mistakes:

Erroneously determining eligibility: To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must work for a covered employer, must have worked 1,250 hours and 12 months and must be employed at a worksite where there are 50 employees within a 75-mile radius. Employers who deny otherwise eligible employees their rights under the FMLA may face interference claims. Conversely, determining that an ineligible employee is eligible also creates legal risk.

Failing to establish written FMLA policies: Among other things, company handbooks should advise employees about their rights under the FMLA and confirm the method by which leave will be tracked. It is worth noting that if the employer fails to set forth its calculation policy in writing, each eligible employee must be allowed to decide the calculation method.

Failing to provide required notices to employees: The FMLA requires employers to provide certain written notices to employees in connection with their leave. Failure to provide these notices may create confusion among employees and subject the company to legal exposure.

Accepting incomplete medical certifications: Employees must demonstrate their entitlement to FMLA leave by providing acceptable medical certifications. Employers have the right to contact health care provider for clarification to avoid granting leave that an employee may not be eligible to take.

Calculating leave incorrectly (or imprecisely) and failing to properly monitor leave: Employers should exercise great care in tracking and calculating all leave time to help avoid disputes and limit potential legal exposure.

More information about FMLA requirements can be found here. If you need assistance with issues pertaining to FMLA disputes or administration of FMLA leave, please contact Wright Beamer at (248) 477-6300 or visit our website.

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