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Employers Quick Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

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As states continue to see gradual reductions in new cases of COVID-19 and vaccines become available for larger groups, many business owners are undoubtedly looking forward to operations getting back to normal. This is a huge relief, as the pandemic forced closures and restrictions on certain types of business activity in many areas of the country. Organizations have also had to deal with employees who were directly impacted by the coronavirus and quickly pivot to comply with certain federal and state-sponsored programs such as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

While the FFCRA was a temporary requirement for businesses that expired on Dec. 31, 2020, there are other laws that employers should be aware of to ensure compliance. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees of covered employers to periods of job-protected, unpaid leave for qualifying family or medical reasons. Employees taking qualified leave under FMLA are allowed the continuation of company-sponsored group health insurance and rights to return to their original job, or an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment upon their return from leave.

FMLA quick facts

FMLA rules apply to:

  • Companies with 50 or more employees
  • Public agencies
  • Public or private elementary or secondary schools

Employees are eligible if they:

  • Work for a covered employer
  • Have worked for the employer for at least 12 months
  • Completed at least 1250 hours of service during the 12 months leading up to the leave period

Up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave may be taken in a year for qualified reasons including personal health issues, childbirth, or providing care to a child, spouse, or parent with a serious health condition. An eligible employee may take up to 26 workweeks of leave during a year to care for a child, spouse, or parent who is a service-member, under a special provision for military families. Employers may require certification from a healthcare provider in support of the employee’s leave.

Covered employers should post a notice explaining rights and responsibilities under the FMLA and provide information about the FMLA to new employees upon hire, and/or include the information in employee handbooks. However, keep in mind that the FMLA is not the only law protecting employees who need time off for their health or caretaking responsibilities for their families. Many states have their own regulations. These states can have different criteria to determine which employers are covered and which employees are eligible, and some might have special requirements for employers to provide paid leave for qualifying circumstances. Organizations operating in multiple states will want to stay current with the applicable laws in each jurisdiction to make sure they remain in compliance and provide employees in each state with the appropriate leave entitlements.

If this sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. Many businesses rely on service providers and the guidance of industry experts to navigate the complex and ever-changing rules to save themselves the headache and stress of managing the various leave laws for their organizations. Contact Valor Payroll Solutions to see how we can help.


Christina Hageny

Christina Hageny

President - Valor Payroll Solutions

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