Though it has only been around for little more than two decades, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has made a very serious impact in the way employers view and administer absence management. The guidelines in which most employers have to operate within under the FMLA can be challenging, at times, as is compliance documentation, but all in all, employers do recognize that the law is an important one that does have a positive impact on the workforce.
So how much impact has the FMLA had over the years? Here are some helpful FMLA statistics and facts that we have been able to uncover during the course of our consulting work. We will try to update this post fairly regularly. All stats and facts are linked to their original source, where appropriate and source dates are included.
As you are likely aware, a short time ago, the United States Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry anywhere across the United States. Prior to the ruling, 36 states and Washington D.C. allowed same-sex marriages. Now, the 14 states that have bans will be forced to lift them.
You can read the full Obergefell v. Hodges decision here.
This ruling is game-changing on a number of different levels socially and politically, but we’d like to point out that many employers will be impacted by this decision as well and should be prepared.
The most notable change will be evaluating your spousal eligibility in all areas of employee benefits. In addition, leave policies including but not limited to FMLA compliance will need to be reviewed. Dust off those policies and start re-reading them to pinpoint what changes need to be made.
The Department of Labor (DOL) Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) certification forms originally expired in February and the DOL was very slow to respond…but it seems as I was eating my first hotdog of the season the DOL was making a minor but critical change to the FMLA certification forms.
The new forms, which will not expire until May 2018, now include the following language
Do not provide information about genetic tests, as defined in 29 C.F.R. § 1635.3(f), genetic services, as defined in 29 C.F.R. § 1635.3(e), or the manifestation of disease or disorder in the employee’s family members, 29 C.F.R. § 1635.3(b).
This new wording is related to the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) and is an important addition for most employers.
With this change a spouse is now defined based on the state of celebration. Therefore even if your state does not recognize same-sex marriage your policy related to the FMLA will need to recognize it, assuming it occurred legally in another jurisdiction.
Most human resource professionals have been preparing for this change for months…maybe years but here are two key reminders:
Although you may have known about this was coming since 2012, most supervisors have not! Take an opportunity to remind your supervisors of this change.
Ensure you do not treat documentation requirements differently for same-sex marriage. Therefore if a marriage certificate is not needed for opposite sex spouses, do not require it for same-sex spouses.
Take this opportunity to review your policy and documentation. If the DOL comes knocking you will only have 72 hours to respond to their inquiry so look into it before they arrive at your door.
This month, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced an update related to same-sex marriage and the spousal definition under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Currently the FMLA definition of spouse links directly with state law; however, after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision related to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in United States v. Windsor absence management professionals were expecting the DOL to reconsider their definition of spouse.
Since some states do not recognize same-sex marriages the FMLA left a gap for individuals that were married under state law but it may not have been recognized in their state of residence. Currently couples that live in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriages are not covered as “spouses” under the FMLA. Once the change is implemented, this policy will be modified on a federal level.
The DOL indicated their regulatory change will “fully implement the Supreme Court’s decision”. Timing is unclear at this time but Spring will continue to provide updates.
Our latest Spring white paper, Managing an Absent Workforce: A Guide to the Family Medical Leave Act, will allow you to take a pulse on your existing program.
This book pinpoints some of the tactical items where employers could tighten their reigns including counting time, use of paid time, recertification processes, fit for duty and specific areas of interests for employers.
The guide also seeks to remind Human Resource professionals that processes related to FMLA need to be continually reviewed as other plans evolve to make sure they are still appropriate and compliant.
Please fill out the form below to download this helpful FMLA white paper.