The new Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Rules were put into effect as of March 8, 2013! We have touched upon the FMLA in the past, and the military provisions in particular. These Department of Labor rules have bloomed like crocuses in the spring and, if you are a family in need, they are just as beautiful. For businesses, facing the complexities, they may not be as welcome, but we all know and are grateful for the service of our military. We also know that this dedication to defending our liberties often comes at great cost. The new rules implement the 2008 and 2010 FMLA amendments to give leave to employees with family members in the Armed Forces, National Guard and Reserves for reasons related to their family members’ military service. Additionally, airline flight crew employees, with their unique work schedules, will have greater access to the benefits of the FMLA and a special method of calculating leave.
Military families often face even more challenges than other families. Caring for an injured service member, arranging for childcare with a spouse deployed abroad, or welcoming a loved one who finally comes home at arrival ceremonies may present tough choices about work versus family commitments. The FMLA may provide some relief.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as earlier.
Thus FMLA gives employers duties and employees rights about the balance of work and family responsibilities. It mandates reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons for up to 12 weeks and for families with military, up to 26 weeks. It may be taken in segments. It also seeks to accommodate the legitimate interests of employers and promotes equal employment opportunity for men and women.
- Covers only certain employers and eligible employees (http://www.bizatty.com/medical-leave-fmla-maternity-leave-mmla.html);
- Involves entitlement to leave;
- Continues health benefits during leave;
- Guarantees an employee’s job after leave;
- Gives notice and certification requirements about the need for leave;
- Protects employees who request or take leave; and
- Includes certain employer record keeping requirements.
Eligible employees of covered employers are entitled leave for:
- The birth of a child and to care for the newborn child;
- The placement of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
- Care for a family member with a serious health condition;
- The employee’s own serious health condition* that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of his or her job; or
- Certain reasons related to the military service of the employee’s family member (qualifying exigency and military caregiver leave).
The FMLA prohibits employer interference with FMLA rights and empowers the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to investigate and enforce its provisions. Employees cannot waive, nor may employers seek waivers of rights under the FMLA. They may, however, settle claims by employees based on past employer conduct without the approval of the DOL or a court. Furthermore, nothing in the FMLA or its regulations prevents an employer from providing an employee with greater protections and/or more leave than the law provides even if the employee is not eligible and/or the employer covered. The interaction of the FMLA with the ADAAA – the American with Disablities Act Amendments Act and state handicap / disability discrimination law may further expand employee rights and burden employers in trying to comply with these legal complications. The employees may not be the only ones wanting to take a leave!
*Serious health condition means an illness, injury, impairment or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care as defined in § 825.114 or continuing treatment by a health care provider as defined in § 825.115. Restorative dental or plastic surgery after an injury or removal of cancerous growths are serious health conditions. Mental illness or allergies may be serious health conditions, but only if all the conditions of § 825.113 are met.