Recent updates made on FMLA Printable Forms

Passed in 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act permits workers at qualified private companies and all public sector employees to take unpaid time off for certain family and medical situations.

Last year, the Department of Labor (DOL), which oversees the execution and enforcement of the law, released new rules that led to changes, expansions, and new FMLA forms.

Changes to the FMLA Adopted in 2013

First, the new DOL rule called for the issuing of a new FMLA poster to be put up at workplaces around the country. The new FMLA poster detailed the key conditions of the FMLA and can be obtained along with other FMLA printable forms at the DOL website.

The new DOL rule also said the optional-use FMLA forms will no longer be made accessible in the regulations’ appendices. This modification was made to permit the DOL to make “non-substantive” transformations to the FMLA printable forms in an online-only format. While organizations should bring their current forms up to date if they haven’t already, organizations should go to the official FMLA printable forms website when they use an FMLA form to best make certain their form is current.

The FMLA was also changed to recognize the unique job schedule of airline flight crews. Airline flight crew workers will meet the FMLA hours-worked requirement if they have worked or been compensated for a minimum of 60 percent of the relevant overall monthly guarantee and have worked or been compensated for a minimum of 504 hours during the previous 12-month period. This is as opposed to the general FMLA eligibility requirement that mandates 1,250 hours of work for a covered company during the previous 12 months. Qualified flight crew workers will be eligible for 72 days of leave for any FMLA-qualifying basis and 156 days of leave for military caregiver leave.

The DOL rule also broadened the accessibility of military-related leave. Military caregiver leave was broadened to include qualified workers whose close relatives are recent veterans with severe injuries or illnesses. The actual meaning of significant injuries or illnesses includes current service members’ pre-existing medical conditions that were made worse in the line of duty.

Furthermore, leave to care for a service member’s affairs will be broadened to include members of the family in the Regular Armed Forces members and adds the prerequisite that all military members be sent to a foreign country to be on “covered active duty” under the FMLA. The rule also raises the quantity of time a worker may take for leave related to the military member’s recovery from active duty, from 5 days to up to 15 days.
FMLA Basics

The FMLA allows qualified workers of covered organizations to take unpaid, job-protected leave for family and medical reasons with the extension of group medical insurance coverage as if the worker had not taken time off under the FMLA.

Qualified workers are eligible for up to 12 workweeks of leave in a rolling 12-month period for the arrival of a new child, whether the child arrives through birth, adoption or foster care. Workers can also take unpaid time off to tend to the newborn child within one year of birth or bond with the adopted/foster care child within a year of placement.

Employees can also take off to tend to their immediate family member who has a severe health problem, their own health condition that makes them unable to work. Workers can also take off from work under the FMLA for a “qualifying exigency” coming out of the fact that the worker’s immediate family member is a covered military member on active duty. This type of leave might be taken to arrange for child care or set up financial services.

A worker is expected to give a minimum of 30 days’ notice for FMLA leave, unless the need is unforeseen. In the case of unexpected leave, the worker should inform the company as soon as possible after becoming aware of their need.

The company must respond to the worker within five days of the request. The employer’s response must establish if the worker is entitled to FMLA leave and inform the worker of their rights and responsibilities under the law.

A worker is entitled to FMLA leave only if they’ve been employed by the company for at least 12 months, which need not be consecutive. To qualify for FMLA leave, the worker must have been employed for a minimum of 1,250 hours during the last 12 months and must at a work location with 50 or more employees all living within 75 miles of a main location.

If the worker does not meet these three criteria, the employer’s responsibility is to inform the worker of ineligibility for FMLA leave by citing at least one criterion the worker does not meet.

The Department of Labor (DOL) has several FMLA printable forms available for companies looking to validate unpaid leave, including the WH 381 Rights and Responsibilities form. Workers must be allowed up to 15 days to fill out and return this form.

While a company does not need to ask for medical validation, these FMLA printable forms are tools to help organizations in administration of FMLA leave. If a company knows that a worker’s absence is FMLA eligible, there may not be a need for a medical validation. However, organizations should be consistent in their leave policy and the practice of requiring medical certifications from workers asking for FMLA leave.

Occasionally, validation forms are delivered to the company incomplete or with insufficient data. If a validation is turned in, but one or more of the applicable entries has not been finished – in may be considered incomplete. A medical validation is also considered insufficient if the relevant information supplied is vague or ambiguous. The worker has seven calendar days to fix any such deficiency, unless the worker cannot despite diligent good faith attempts. If the deficiencies specified by the company are not fixed in the resubmitted validation, the company may deny the taking of unpaid leave under the FMLA.

It should be noted that the DOL has recognized companies might miss a deadline for responding to a worker’s request or for making an FMLA designation. For this reason, a company is allowed to make an FMLA designation retroactively. Retroactive designation should be an agreement between the employee and the employer.