U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced the agency's intent to do more on-site investigations of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) "to increase investigators' access to information and save time by reviewing documents and interviewing employees onsite." This is not welcome news for employers subject to the requirements of FMLA.
A DOL spokesperson cited these common FMLA violations:
• Refusing to authorize FMLA leave for an eligible employee.
• Discouraging a worker from using FMLA leave.
• Manipulating an employee's work hours to avoid responsibilities under the FMLA.
• Making someone's request for or use of FMLA leave a negative factor in employment actions, such as hiring, promotions or disciplinary actions.
• Counting FMLA leave under "no fault" attendance policies.
Many employers are responding to the increased scrutiny of on-site investigations by conducting internal audits to ensure they are ready when the DOL knocks on their door.
Here is an FMLA checklist that organizations should review, considering whether they:
• Have an up-to-date FMLA policy in their employee handbook and FMLA forms to comply with FMLA regulations.
• Have an FMLA packet to give employees which includes a notice of employee's eligibility and rights and responsibilities under FMLA, the FMLA designation notice, medical certification forms for health care providers, and the company's fitness-for-duty certification for when an employee wishes to return to work after taking FMLA leave.
• Prominently display the DOL's current FMLA poster where employees and applicants can see it.
• Maintain complete files for all workers who have requested or taken FMLA leave in the past three years, including dates of any FMLA leaves and copies of all correspondence, notices, certifications, benefits documents and disputes relating to such leave.
• Train managers to recognize when absences or leave requests have FMLA implications.
• Have an attendance policy that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and FMLA.
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