Family Medical Leave Act and Health Care benefits.

Stephanie Edwards, Capstone Brokerage Benefits Account Manager, August 27, 2015

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was established in 1993. FMLA is a federal law that requires some employers to provide employees job-protected, unpaid leave for a qualifying medical condition as well as for new additions to the family. Typically the most common use of FMLA comes when an employee or spouse gives birth to a child.There are many other circumstances that qualify for FMLA .

What situations qualify for FMLA?

The most common, as mentioned above, is the birth of a child. This can also include adoption or fostering of a child. The second common situation that would qualify under FMLA is a serious health issue of the employee, or the need to care for a family member such as child or spouse that is suffering from a serious health condition. Lastly FMLA may be used due to a qualifying exigency of a covered military member on active duty and immediate family of an active duty service member including the spouse, children or parent of the employee.

Do I have to provide FMLA to my employees?

There are a set of specific guidelines to determine if you must grant FMLA for your employees. The basic criterion is that the business has 50 or more employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or previous calendar year.

Employees that are eligible should meet the minimum requirements of:

– The employee has been employed for at least 12 months
– The employee has worked at least 1,250 hours during the consecutive months prior to leave.

What is required of a business under FMLA?

An employer with over 50 employees must hold the job position of an employee on approved medical leave until they return from FMLA. They are not required to pay the employee during the leave, however they must maintain the employees health insurance.

How long is FMLA?

Family medical leave is for 12 workweeks per 12 month period; unless it is for care of a covered service member then the leave is limited to 26 workweeks of leave during a single 12 month period.

Employer are able to decide how that calculate the 12 month period it can be done one of two ways, either in a calendar year meaning January-December OR a fixed 12 month period.

FMLA can also be used in increments. For example if an employee needs to have medical care throughout the year like in a chemotherapy situation that causes them to need to take certain days off of work for treatment, FMLA can be used for those time periods. In the situation of increment leave, the employee is still only eligible for 12 total weeks. It is important to remember that the amount of actual leave is all that can be counted.

When an employee takes intermittent leave or medical leave the employer also has the option to transfer the employee to another position to minimize the disruption of the company. However, this option only is available if the employee is taking planned leave, the employee qualifies for the new position and if the new position is more apt to accommodate the recurring period of leave. It is important that if an employee on FMLA is transferred to another position that they will receive the same benefits and pay at the position as well as the same or comparable title. The hours and job type must remain the same and the position requirements must comply with ADA.

Family Medical Leave Act is an important part of the American work force. FMLA not only protects employees but also employers by providing guidelines for use. Each state has additional FMLA regulations and provisions that go beyond the federal law, some of which include more benefits and paid leave. Next month, I will discuss the additional FMLA laws here in the state of Nevada. For more information about FMLA, please check with your benefits consultant.