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(Editor’s Note: Today’s article is brought to you by our friends at HRdirect, a trusted source for employee-related compliance, administration, and motivation tools. They serve as a one-stop shop to make employee management easier. Enjoy the read!)
I recently published an article about how organizations can make OSHA safety requirements less burdensome, while at the same time maintaining compliance. If you haven’t read it, I hope you’ll check it out. One aspect of workplace injuries and illnesses that we didn’t get to touch on in that article is the connection to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
If you haven’t had to reference the FMLA lately, here’s a quick refresher. Please note that I’m paraphrasing a huge piece of legislation and the full regulations can be found on the U.S. Department of Labor website. Under the FMLA, eligible employees are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. The reasons for eligible leave include the birth and placement of a child, to care for a sick family member, and/or an employee’s “serious health condition.”
It’s important to understand that an employee’s work-related illness or injury could turn into a serious health condition under the FMLA. Ashley Kaplan, Director and Senior Corporate Counsel for ComplyRight, Inc., shares a common example of how this might occur. “Let’s say an employee falls off a ladder at work and hurts their back. If they couldn’t return to work after three or more consecutive days following their injury – and required continuing treatment by a health care provider — their situation could be considered a serious health condition under the FMLA and entitle them to job-protected leave.”
I don’t want to get too off track but because we’re in the middle of a pandemic, there’s one other thing I want to mention regarding family and medical leave. It’s possible that an employee might be eligible for FMLA because of COVID-19. I asked Ashley if she could offer some additional insights. “Before spring 2020, no one could have predicted the emergence and far-reaching impact of COVID-19 on the workplace. Today, we know that a covered, FMLA-eligible employee who becomes sick with COVID-19, or is caring for a family member who is sick with the virus, may be able to obtain FMLA leave protection.”
Employment Compliance Demonstrates Caring
We all get it – the Family and Medical Leave Act is an administratively burdensome law. But let’s be clear, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad law. It just means there are a lot of things we must do to be compliant. And as HR pros, we want to do it right. Following the law sends the message to employees that their FMLA leave is important to us.
It also raises the point that human resources professionals do not have the time to take a deep dive in reading and memorizing the federal regulations. As a HR pro, I want to spend my time supporting the employee during their leave regardless of whether the reason is work-related or not. But that means I need to have quick access to reliable FMLA information. Thankfully, our friends at HRdirect offer an FMLA Administration Forms Library to help us when employees need to take leave. The Library includes:
- An FMLA flow chart, to make sure organizations do all the right steps in the right order
- Employee notices to make sure individuals understand their rights under the law
- Employee request forms including medical and military certifications
- Company responses which inform the employee of their eligibility (or non-eligibility)
- FMLA Leave tracker which monitors hours taken (for intermittent leaves)
Each form in the FMLA Library has been reviewed by an attorney and is 100% compliant. Also, if changes were to happen to the law, the forms are automatically updated. One other thing, the forms are stored in a secure “HR Hub”, so HR departments don’t have to waste paper and print documents until they need them. At the point they do need them, they can login to the Hub and access exactly what they need.
HR Needs a Reliable Compliance Partner
The FMLA has been around since 1993. It’s an important benefit for employees. To administer the law correctly, organizations need to properly determine an employee’s eligibility and process all the necessary paperwork.
The good news is that we don’t have to memorize all the FMLA regulations. We can count on a good partner to help us make sure that we’re in compliance. If you’re looking for a reliable FMLA resource, now is the perfect time to check out HRdirect’s FMLA Library. Our friends at HRdirect are offering HR Bartender readers 20% off products. You don’t want to miss out on this opportunity – just use this link to receive the discount.18