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An Employer's FMLA Legal Responsibilities

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By Andrew Lu on July 19, 2012 6:54 AM

If you have 50 or more employees, your business is probably covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

This means your business now has obligations under the federal law to do certain things including posting requirements and providing certain forms to your employees. The different FMLA requirements for employers can be confusing, and can overlap with state leave law requirements. Here, we provide an overview of some of the important steps that covered employers should take.

  1. Post a Notice. You are required to post a notice of FMLA regulations in plain view of employees, explaining the rights and obligations under the law. Posting in plain view means that the poster should go somewhere like the break room or lobby area where employees congregate. An explanation of FMLA rights and responsibilities also must be included in the employee handbook or other literature explaining employee benefits.
  2. Notify Employees of FMLA Rights. Employees requesting leave under FMLA do not have to explicitly request "FMLA leave." It is up to the employer to identify the leave as potentially FMLA-qualifying and to notify the employee of his or her rights and obligations under the law. After confirming that the leave is FMLA eligible, the employer must inform the employee that the absence will be counted towards the 12 weeks of FMLA leave.
  3. Request a Medical Certification. Employers may require medical certification for a leave request related to a serious health condition, but are not required to do so. If you do require a medical certification, make sure you apply the policy uniformly, or you risk a discrimination charge.
  4. Restore the Employee to Original Position. Once an employee returns from FMLA leave, the employee must be restored to his or her original position or an equivalent position. So you should generally avoid firing employees on FMLA leave or demoting them.

Lawsuits related to the FMLA may be one of the most common sources of liability for employers. If you have questions about an employers requirements under the FMLA, you may want to look at FindLaw's Guide to the FMLA. If you still have specific questions, consider contacting an employment attorney.

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