FMLA Forms You Need to Know When Making Requests

Requesting FMLA Leave

No matter whether you work for a public or private employer, the fundamental FMLA leave request procedure is the same. Employees fill out an FMLA request form. The content of an FMLA request form may vary by employer, but typically requite your name, a description of the reason for the leave, and your signature, at minimum. Employees are, by convention and by some corporate policies, expected to submit their leave request form in advance of the leave request. The FMLA Act itself defines a 30 days advance notice of need for leave when it is foreseeable.

The employer must respond within five days of receiving the FMLA request form as per the Act, and inform the employee of their eligibility for FMLA leave and their rights under the Act. They can easily do this with the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor (DOL)’s form WH-381. Employees are eligible only if they have met the following requirements, as per the Act, which include having been employed by the employer from which they are requesting leave for 12 months or more, during which they have completed approximately 156 days or more of service in the past 12 calendar months. They also must be working within a 75-mile radius of worksites containing 50 or more of their co-workers.

They are then asked to fill out a certification form – a FMLA form through which third-party verification of the necessity of the leave is obtain. For example, a doctor would fill out a FMLA certification form certifying an employee’s need for medical leave.

The Wage and Hour Division of the DOL has created four sample FMLA forms that allow employers and employees to obtain certification of leave requests: WH-380E – leave certification for serious health conditions; WH-380F – leave certification to serve as a caretaker for a relative’s serious health condition; WH-384 – leave certification for military leave; and WH-385 – leave certification for those needing to serve as caretakers for injured, related veterans.

As of amendments to the Act that became effective in Jan of 2009, employees have up to 15 days to have their certification form filled out. Once received, employers can use the FMLA form WH-382, to indicate approval or denial of the request. Denials can be provisional in cases where the certification forms are incomplete. The employer must notify the employee of the incomplete FMLA form and allow the employee at least 7 days for the employee to have their healthcare provider correct the deficiencies.

The FMLA Process for Employees

Before you begin the FMLA leave request process, it's always helpful to get some first-hand information from your human resources representatives, who are the most knowledgeable about the process. If the idea of going to human resources makes you leery, if you are in a union shop, ask your shop steward about how to fill out FMLA forms. A knowledgeable and well-informed shop steward has likely helped many an employee navigate the FMLA process, and may have had some training in this area. They can likely help you fill out whichever FMLA form you need – from the FMLA request form to the FMLA form for certifying your leave. And if you are not in a union shop the DOL website has a variety of FMLA forms and factsheets in several different languages that will guide you through the essentials of the Act and its provisions.

"When I filled out forms for my FMLA leave, it was helpful to discuss them with my steward and human resources representative," says Larika Jones, a welfare counselor from York, Pennsylvania. "It was helpful to understand the process, not only sure to I filled out the forms correctly, but also to ensure that I understood the Act and made sure my leave fell in line with it."

The Importance of the FMLA Process for Employers

It is critical to make sure that all of the required FMLA forms and notices are completed properly and in a timely manner to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Act. Violations of the Act (a federal law) can be extremely time-consuming and costly. Even a failure to respond to a FMLA request form within the period prescribed by the Act, especially in instances where an employee is harmed through the missed deadline, can tie up legal resources for months and become a major headache. And when blatant or egregious violations of the Act, such as ignoring leave request forms submitted or arbitrarily denying them, become public they can damage a firm's employee morale and public reputation, in addition to costing tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in judgments and legal fees.

To make sure that your firm is in compliance with the Act, it is important to have an informed human resources staff and a firm set of policies and procedures. Software solutions should be comprehensive and integrated into the existing IT infrastructure. FMLA forms and records should be easily accessible through a web browser, but stored safely and securely into a customizable backend configured to meet each firm’s unique human resources needs.

There are only a few software solutions on the market for FMLA management that are affordable, easy to implement, and comprehensive in scope. Qcera, a California-based FMLA and absence management solutions provider, offers employers a solution that meets all of these criteria and then some. Qcera's modular platform digitizes and stores all the FMLA forms as well as the State leave forms needed for the leave request process (from the FMLA request form to the final approval or denial form), manages leave tracking, and more. To find more information and to request a free demonstration, visit us at Qcera.com and LeaveSource.com. We are happy to show you how Qcera can help you simplify your leave management process, and ensure your compliance with the FMLA and State leave provisions.

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