With popular companies providing employees with extended leave, employees may be curious and want to exercise their legal leave options. For starters, train employees on the United States Department of Labor’s Family Medical Leave Act.
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was established in 1993, then updated in 2008. It entitles employees of covered employers to unpaid time off with the continuation of health plan benefits over that time. These were set into place so that employers have an absolute standard they must adhere to. Of course, as mentioned previously, many large companies are raising the bar to that standard. As an employer or manager, it’s important for your employees to know the absolute standard and anything additional to it. If you’re a covered employer and you provide more than the FMLA standards, educating your employees on both of these things reciprocates awareness from employees and a greater appreciation for the company.
FMLA Training for Managers
We think it’s important to train all employees with FMLA training, but if there’s anyone who must take FMLA training, it’s managers and supervisors. The law provides employers different ways to administer FMLA in addition to the company developing its own FMLA policies, i.e., FMLA has minimum standards, but as a company, it’s important to fill in specifics within the company’s context.
FMLA training for supervisors within human resources is essential. There are many helpful resources from The Society of Human Resources Management or SHRM. Information on FMLA training seminars can be found on the SHRM website as well as helpful articles and scenarios.
The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is a part of the government committed to helping employers comply to laws like FMLA and OSHA. The WHD site offers an elaw advisor, downloadable resources, and printable posters for you to use to build training. WHD investigators can determine if an employer meets the standards to comply with FMLA and that workers are served FMLA rights properly under the law. Investigators do not have to schedule an investigation in advance and the reason for the investigation is usually never disclosed. Investigations consist of examinations of records and payroll and interviews with employees and the employer.
The SHRM and WHD sites are great places to start, but to disseminate efficient learning throughout a company, consider using an elearning system. With an elearning software, like Lessonly, you can create an FMLA presentation for supervisors compiled of all the training materials you have on FMLA. You can incorporate FMLA powerpoints (Though, an FMLA training powerpoint may seem a little redundant with Lessonly, if you’re not ready to get rid of it, we can work with it), FMLA tips for both employees and supervisors, an FMLA training video, and even FMLA training exercises supervisors can train employees with.
FMLA Training Scenarios
Before we get into FMLA scenarios employers and supervisors should train on, it’s important to know the basics of FMLA. FMLA provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave to an employee from an employer considered ‘covered.’ A covered employer is any employer, private or public, with 50 or more employees. As an employee, you cannot exercise FMLA rights until you have worked at the company for 12 months, consecutively or non consecutively. With that said, prior to taking FMLA leave, the employee must have covered 1,250 hours of work. The position of the employee can not be affected by taking FMLA leave. In addition, FMLA leave cannot affect promotional status or attendance bonuses.
FMLA training will help supervisors determine when a leave is covered by FMLA, timely handling of paperwork, and preparing for that employee’s return. Neglecting to properly administer FMLA rights or denying them can lead to legal issues and public relations nightmares. The best way to avoid those things are to inform learners acutely and efficiently.
Here are some FMLA scenarios that both employees and employers need to be familiar with:
- The birth of a child or the adoption of a child – As an adoptive parent, these 12 weeks can be used to get a new child acquainted with the new parents and adjusted to its surroundings. Under the condition in which both parents work for the same company, an employer is only required to administer 12 weeks total to the parents to divide up amongst themselves.
- To provide psychological comfort or care to a family member – This is in regard to children, spouses, or parents. The definition of parent is broad and is considered when day-to-day care and financial support are provided to a child.
- FMLA ineligible employees – Besides meeting the requirements for FMLA, some employees may need to take more leave in addition to their FMLA rights. If the FMLA leave has been exhausted but the employee has a medical condition or disability qualified by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Extensive leave can also be considered in regards to other leave and time-off policies within the company. This can include things like pregnancy-related or short-term disability leave.
- Untimely certification and documentation – Employees must provide accurate documentation from doctors for leave. With that said, it’s important for the employer to inquire to the documentation. Employees should give proper FMLA medical documentation anytime during the first 15 days of leave or report ‘good faith’ efforts to employers. A good faith effort would be an employee contacting their doctor several times and the doctor delaying record delivery.
- Additional time off – Employees can exercise other time-off options in addition to the FMLA 12-week period. If the employee has saved up vacation time, or needs to take advantage of other time-off policies, they may do so.
When an employee comes back from FMLA leave, consider using elearning software to get them up-to-speed again. If the employee on leave is able, you can use elearning to help them learn on their time off, though it should not be expected of the employee.
There are plenty of other scenarios to go over, these are just a few. Be sure to cover special cases in your FMLA training. It’s helpful to take these kinds of situations and put them into context for your employees. With Lessonly, you can use open-ended questions to elicit and answer scenarios your employees are curious about.