What FMLA Covered Employer needs to know !

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) entitles qualified workers to take up to 12 or 26 weeks of leave that is unpaid in a 12-month period for certain medical and family reasons.
Who is Covered Under FMLA?

Under the definition of an FMLA covered employer, is a company with 50 or more workers all living within a 75-mile radius of a primary location. A qualified worker is one who has been employed by that FMLA covered employer for at least 12 months and who has worked at least of 1,250 hours in the past 12 months.

Under the definition of the FMLA, covered employers must offer 12 weeks of unpaid leave to any qualified worker who suffers from a severe health condition, wishes to tend to a relative with a substantial health condition or wishes to tend the arrival of a new child, whether that child arrives through birth, adoption or placement via foster care.

In addition, qualified workers with an immediate family member who is also a service member on covered active military duty may use their 12-week entitlement to tackle certain qualifying situations, setting as child care arrangements or counseling sessions. The Family Medical Leave Act also includes a special leave entitlement that permits qualified workers to take up to 26 weeks of leave to tend to a covered military member hurt in the line of active military service.

For the purposes of the law, a “serious health condition” includes hospital care or residential medical care facility. It also includes any period of inability to work or medical care in related to in-patient care.

Unpaid leave is also permitted for serious chronic care – defined as periodic visits for medical care by a medical doctor or other healthcare provider. This care must be continued over an extended period of time and may cause episodic as opposed to a continuing period of inability to work.

Inability to work, for purposes of FMLA, is considered an inability to conduct a normal routine without assistance due to a significant health condition or medical care. A significant health condition may include a period of inability to work of over three straight calendar days, along with medical care with a doctor or medical specialist.

FMLA covered employers must also provide job-protected leave to receive treatments by a medical doctor related to surgery after an accident or other injury, or for a medically-related inability to work for greater than three consecutive calendar days without medical care, such as cancer, acute arthritis and kidney disease.

The FMLA also allows female workers to take unpaid leave for pregnancy, prenatal care and any period of inability to work due to pregnancy or care. Spouses employed by the same company are limited to a combined overall of 12 weeks of FMLA to tend to child-related matters or a parent who has a substantial health condition.

A qualified worker is eligible for no more than unpaid family and medical leave during any 12-month period for 12 weeks. Chosen by the FMLA covered employers, the 12-month period is either one calendar year, a fixed predetermined 12-month “leave year,” a 12-month time frame, starting from the date a worker's first FMLA begins or a “rolling” 12-month period going back from the date a worker uses any unpaid leave under the FMLA.

During the unpaid leave, an FMLA covered employer must offer group health plan benefits as it has prior to the leave and cannot refuse or discriminate against to reinstate a worker who takes valid leave. We should all note that if a worker made co-payments or insurance premium payment as part of their group health care plan – they must continue to do so to extend coverage.

Intermittent FMLA Leave

A worker who is covered under FMLA may be eligible for take unpaid leave on an intermittent or decreased schedule basis when this type of leave is medically necessary. While worker may ask for intermittent or reduced schedule leave, the company does not have to grant it.

An intermittent leave is defined as leave taken in separate blocks of time as a result of single illness or injury and may include leave periods of one hour or less, or multiple hours or days at a time.

A decreased leave schedule is a leave schedule that reduces a worker's usual quantity of working hours per workweek. In other words, a decreased leave schedule is the change of a worker's work schedule for a period of time, typically from full-time to part-time. For instance, a worker may ask for decreased leave to work during Friday or afternoons while recovering from a significant health condition or to tend to a seriously ill family member.

If a worker who is covered under FMLA takes intermittent or decreased schedule leave, only the quantity of leave actually taken can be counted toward the amount of weeks of FMLA leave to which the worker is entitled. If a worker who works five days a week takes off one day, then the worker has used only one-fifth week of FMLA leave. Similarly, a worker who works eight-hour days and works four-hour days under a decreased leave schedule uses one-half week of leave each week.

A worker who asks for intermittent or decreased leave for expected medical care may be temporarily transferred by the company to a different job with equal pay and benefits that better serves the needs of that company. If, however, the leave is not expected – FMLA covered employers cannot require such a transfer. The company may have a discussion with a worker to see if they agree with the decision. If the worker does agree to the temporary transfer, it is suggested that the agreement be put in writing by both the employee and the FMLA covered employer.

Informing Employees of the Law

All employers that fall under the auspices of the law should post and provide information for employees on crucial facts, such as the definition of an FMLA covered employer and answers to questions like “Who is covered under FMLA?”

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