In both business and in life there will be some unexpected twists and turns along the way.  For your employees, it could be the unpleasant surprise of a family member’s illness.


With mounting stress and crippling uncertainty, how you handle yourself as an employer could make all of the difference.  Read on to learn more about the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) so that you and your team can keep calm and carry on together.


What is the FMLA?


The Wage and Hour Division implement the Family Medical Leave Act.  Applying to businesses that employee 50 or more people, the FMLA provides a way in which employees can keep their jobs while taking unpaid time off to tend to an ailing family member (or in some cases, themselves).


There are agencies that fall under this act even without 50+ employees, such as public agencies and education agencies (both private and public). Under the FMLA an employee is granted unpaid jobs security for twelve workweeks (within a twelve months period).  During that time the employee at hand is expected to be caring for a family meber like a spouse, child or parent.


What are the coverage requirements?


In order for one of your employees to be covered by the FMLA they must have worked for you for twelve months (note: those months do not need to be consecutive.)  They must also have worked at least 1,250 hours within a twelve-month period.


Things to keep in mind…


  • Your employee is not required to take twelve weeks off consecutively; he/she may opt to take intermittent leave, which is allowed under the FMLA.


  • Your employee should give you as much notice as possible prior to leaving, and as an employer you have a right to request documentation to reasonably determine if the FMLA applies to his/her situation.


  • Its O.K. to request periodical “reports” and ‘”updates” pertaining to your employee’s status and their outlook on returning back to work.


  • Once your employee returns to work, they are entitled to the same (or equivalent) job they left with the same (or equivalent) pay, benefits, etc.


Here’s how you can prepare…


  • If you’re granted notice of an employee’s plan to enact their rights under the FMLA, do your best to cross train other employees, so that you can cover work and duties while he/she is away.


  • Depending on your employee’s situation, see if working from home, or part-time work is a viable option for them instead.


  • When an employee decides to leave under the FMLA, it is a good idea to call upon legal advice.  In some cases, a move like this can cause a chain reaction among your staff.  Use your time wisely to enact a policy customized to fit the needs of your special workplace.


Have you had an employee leave work under the FMLA?

Contact Jumpstart:HR today if you need assistance with FMLA administration or support.


About the author:


Kelly Gregorio writes about topics that affect small businesses and entrepreneurs while working at Advantage Capital Funds, a provider of merchant cash advances. You can read her daily business blog here.