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It's Time to Fix the Family and Medical Leave Act -- Here Are Some Suggestions

Dear Congressperson: I know you are busy, but I am hoping you can take a few minutes out of your sequester stuff to help with the Family and Medical Leave Act, as amended by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008, as amended again by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year...

Family and Medical Leave Act Amendments May Impact Company Policies

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) policies have been the subject of many changes over the past several years. The FMLA entitles an eligible employee to take up to 12 weeks (and in some situations 26 weeks) of unpaid leave during a 12-month period for a qualifying reason. The addition of the military...

Is This the Worst Fake Doctor’s Note Ever? And What Could You Do About It?

Buzzfeed recently published this note, which an employee provided asking his boss for a day off from work. Not only did the employer refuse the time off, but, as you can see above, the employer edited the note, remarked on all of the typos, errors, and misspellings, and returned it to the employee with...

DOL Guidance Clarifies FMLA Rights for Same-Sex Couples

It has been nearly two months since the U.S. Supreme Court nullified Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA"). Yet, the Administration has been largely silent on its interpretation of how the Supreme Court's decision affects the 1,100 plus federal laws that use the term "spouse...

Enforce Your Employee Call-In/Notice Requirements -- Even for FMLA Leave

In that handbook of yours should be a page -- maybe a few lines -- on an employee's responsibility to notify you if they are going to miss work. Who to call, when to call, that kind of stuff. A recent case from the Sixth Circuit ( this one ) [ an enhanced version of this opinion is available to...

When an Extended Leave of Absence is NOT a Reasonable Accommodation

Conventional wisdom says that when a sick or injured employee asks for time off, you should grant it within reason . For one, the EEOC says that hard-capped leave of absence policies violate the ADA . For another, if an employee, returning from an FMLA leave, asks for a few more weeks of leave, what’s...

Is An “Unlimited” Leave Policy Good Business For You?

by Annemarie Cleary A growing number of businesses are considering “unlimited” leave policies for their exempt employees. Unlimited leave policies are excellent recruiting and retention tools that can foster a culture of trust and productivity at the right business. But, the anticipated...

New Bill in Congress Will Revamp FMLA to Cover Smaller Employers

How about cutting the 50-employee requirement for covered employers in half? So, if you have 25 or more employees working within 75 miles of one another, they would be eligible to take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. And that's just part of the Family and Medical Leave Enhancement...

Firing a Sick Employee Just Before She Is FMLA-Eligible Is Very Risky

So, check this out. I read this case yesterday about an employee who provided her company with a November 12 doctor's note, requesting that her hours be reduced due to her high-risk pregnancy. The employee would have become eligible for coverage under the Family and Medical Leave Act on November...

Changes Ahead for FMLA Spouse Definition

The Department of Labor (DOL) will soon publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the definition of "spouse" under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The new rule will enlarge the definition of spouse and likely simplify administration for employers. In August 2013, the DOL issued...

Third Circuit: Mailing FMLA Notice Not Enough for Summary Judgment?

Sometimes the most mundane tasks can make or break your case. Here's something I never thought I'd say: Big decision from the Third Circuit about how to mail FMLA notices! Read the opinion in Lupyan v. Corinthian Colleges, Inc. (for my Pennsylvania readers, the Third Circuit is our jurisdiction...

FMLA 101: Don't Make an Employee Work During Leave. Just Don't.

Really. It's a bad idea. Like my youngest son using chopsticks and a fork at the same time to eat pho . Ok, not that bad. But, definitely blogworthy. I read this case over the weekend about an employee who, while on maternity leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, was required to...

Questioning an Employee’s FMLA Leave? Require Certification.

by Kaitlin L. Hillenbrand Allowing employees to take FMLA leave is good for employees, it’s good for families, and, of course, it’s required by law. But what if you have an employee who takes FMLA leave when nothing seems to be wrong? For example, you could have an employee who reports...

New Department of Labor Regulations for Same-Sex "Spouse" Under FMLA

Tomorrow, the Department of Labor will publish a Final Rule to Revise the Definition of “Spouse” Under the FMLA (including links to additional information). Per the DOL, the "major features" are: • The Department has moved from a “state of residence” rule...

FMLA’s “Same-Sex Spouse” Rule On Hold, For Now

Today, the new rule that would permit FMLA benefits for same-sex spouses was to take effect. However, late yesterday, a federal judge in Texas granted a preliminary injunction [pdf] temporarily halting the rule . The plaintiffs—the attorney generals of four states that do not recognize same...

Five FMLA Facts That May Surprise Even the Most-Seasoned HR Pros

How do I top yesterday’s FMLA cluster ? That’d be like asking a pitcher who just threw a no-hitter to get back out there and pitch another one. Well, gimmee a second to limber up, grab my rosin bag, and, Imma start dealing a few FMLA curveballs. (See what I did there?) A private...

Amendments to California Family Rights Act Regulations Provide Some Clarity to Employers

by Lisa Harris and Dorna Moini The California Fair Employment and Housing Council (FEHC) has issued amended regulations clarifying the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). The amendments will go into effect on July 1, 2015, and are intended to clarify previously confusing rules and adopt regulations...

“FMLA” Is Not A Magic Word

Does an employee have to invoke the letters “F-M-L-A” for an employer to offer it? Or, what if an employer fires an employee who misses work because of an FMLA-qualifying illness for which FMLA-leave was not offered? Has the employer violated the statute? In Festerman v. County of Wayne...

Court Imposes FMLA Catch-22

If you arrive at a friend's house at 12:05 a.m. and leave 14 hours later, would you say you stayed overnight? Of course you would. It's common sense. But common sense is sadly lacking in employment law many times. In a case where an employee faced a FMLA Catch-22 , the Third Circuit said that...

FMLA Basics: Which Employees Are Eligible to Take Leave? And Are There Any Exceptions?

The Family and Medical Leave Act allows eligible employees to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for a variety of reasons, including for one’s own serious health condition. An employee with a serious health condition can take FMLA leave if the employee satisfies three...

POLL: Should Congress Require Companies to Provide Paid Family and Medical Leave From Work?

Last week, President Obama signed an Executive Order requiring federal contractors to provide paid sick leave. More on that here . The Department of Labor has a roadshow and social media campaign , through which it is touting the benefits of paid family and medical leave. And the Family and Medical Insurance...

Leave Policies Should Apply Equally Across Genders … But Must They?

The New York Times reports that CNN has settled an EEOC charge brought by a former correspondent, who claimed that the company’s paid parental leave policy discriminated against biological fathers. At the time Mr. Levs’s daughter was born, in October 2013, CNN offered 10 weeks of paid...

Paid-FMLA Poll Results and an Employment Law Blog Carnival

Yesterday , I asked you — and when I say you, I’m referring to the best change-agents in the entire universe — whether you were cool with the government requiring your businesses to provide a modest amount of paid family and medical leave to employees. Of those who responded to the...

Help Me, Handbook. How Do I Track Intermittent FMLA Leave?

One word: Outsource. See you tomorrow. Oh, you mean some of you actually do this yourselves?!? Ok. As you should know, in certain circumstances eligible employees may take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule . Intermittent leave is FMLA leave...

Keep Your Insensitive FMLA Comments to Yourself. You Too, HR.

I’ve heard the Family and Medical Leave Act referred to as the “Friday/Monday Leave Act.” Heck, I called it the Friday/Monday Leave Act last week. Turns out, I need to watch what I say. A “get out of jail free card.” In Deka v. Countrywide Association For People with...