Has an employee requested time off because of a health condition or to care for a family member’s health problem?

If so, you need to know whether that leave could qualify under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The 1993 law allows qualified employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for the birth or adoption of a child, to care for their own “serious” health condition or to care for an immediate family member who has a “serious” condition.

Employees don’t specifically need to cite the law or say they need “FMLA leave.” It’s your responsibility as the employer to identify leave requests that could qualify as job-protected FMLA leave. If you suspect a leave request could qualify, you should notify HR right away.

Here are more specifics on the law:

1. Who’s eligible? To be eligible for unpaid leave, employees must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months and logged at least 1,250 hours of service.

2. How much time is allowed? Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave during a 12-month period. The law refers to unpaid leave; it doesn’t require paid leave during those 12 weeks.

Eligible leave doesn’t have to come in one-week or even one-day chunks. The law allows some employees to take “intermittent” FMLA leave, which can be for one hour or less.

FMLA does permit employees to elect (or employers to require the employee) to use accrued paid leave, such as vacation or sick leave, for some or all of the FMLA leave period.

3. What’s an ‘illegal’ manager action? You can’t prohibit eligible employees from taking FMLA leave. Nor are you allowed to consider FMLA leave as a negative factor in any employment action, such as hiring, firing, promotion or discipline. In addition, you can’t ‘punish’ employees for complaining about a violation of the law.

Once FMLA leave is over, employees must be able to return to the same or an equivalent position with equal pay, benefits and perks. The new position must involve the same or substantially similar duties, responsibilities and authority as the pre-leave position.

Employees on FMLA leave continue to earn health benefits.

4. What qualifies for leave? Qualified employees are allowed to take FMLA leave for any of these reasons: Child care. For both men and women, to care for the employee’s child after birth, adoption or foster care. Family illness. To care for the employee’s spouse, child or parent who has a “serious” health condition. Own illness. For the employee’s own “serious” condition that makes him or her unable to perform the job.

5. What’s considered a ‘serious’ health condition?
In a nutshell, The law defines a “serious condition” as one that requires in-patient hospital care or causes a three-day incapacity with continuing treatment by a health care provider. This may include heart attacks, most cancers, back conditions that require extensive therapy, strokes, spinal injuries, certain respiratory conditions, severe arthritis and injuries resulting from accidents. Pregnancy, morning sickness, prenatal care, childbirth and recovery from childbirth also qualify.

Courts, are constantly debating which ailments qualify as “serious” and which don’t. Employers have the right to demand medical certification from a doctor to make a decision on whether a condition qualifies. Make sure you bring the issue to the attention of your human resource dept. whenever you suspect an ailment might qualify for FMLA protections.

Important Note: In light of the new FMLA regulations, make sure you amend your organization’s policies, update your employee handbook and revisit how you track FMLA intermittent leave. This could potentially save you unnecessary time and trouble down the road.

For more information and the full list of 7 things every employer should know, visit http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/28721/what-managers-need-to-know-....

Author's Bio: 

Elizabeth Hall is the Senior Web Editor (or Online Publisher) of Business Management Daily, a daily new source for insight, advice and information for business professionals. Elizabeth spearheaded the launch of Business Management Daily in 2008 and works with its contributing editors, bloggers, lawyers and gurus to help provide actionable information to readers and subscribers. For more information about Business Management Daily or to sign up for any of their FREE enewsletters or reports specializing in Human Resources, Leadership & Management, Office Management, Business Coaching, Employment Law, Administrative Professionals and Office Technology please visit http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/free-e-letters or follow us on Twitter @BizDaily and 'Like' us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Business-Management-Daily/264687564412.