Is It Time to Reassess FMLA Compliance?
Most employers are meeting their Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) obligations — but employers are also more likely than ever to be audited for FMLA compliance.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced in May that it would step up its FMLA enforcement and increase the number of onsite FMLA investigations. And although providing 12 weeks of job-protected leave for qualified employees is becoming the norm for businesses with more than 50 employees, one in five employers are still not complying with FMLA mandates, reports the 2014 National Study of Employers.
These facts make it more important than ever that your clients review their leave policies for FMLA compliance and that they also prepare for the possibility of a DOL FMLA audit.
Conducting a compliance review
An employer’s first step in conducting a compliance review is ensuring the company isn’t committing any of the most common violations, such as refusing to authorize FMLA leave for an eligible employee, manipulating work hours to make an employee appear ineligible for FMLA leave, or discouraging an employee from using it.
A compliance review should also include the following steps.
- Educate — Instruct all employees, including supervisors, about the company’s FMLA leave policies and common FMLA violations they should be aware of.
- Display — Make sure the DOL FMLA poster is prominently displayed and visible for all employees.
- Retain — Retain accurate records of all FMLA requests for a minimum of three years.
- Define — Review the employee handbook to verify that the FMLA leave policies are clearly defined and complete. Also be certain to have on file the current versions of all FMLA-related forms.
- Track — Track all legally mandated notices to employees by sending them using a verifiable delivery method, such as certified mail, return receipts, or email. The recent court ruling in Lupyan v. Corinthian Colleges, Inc. puts the responsibility on the employer to verify that an employee has received required notices.
A new way to help your clients: HR Complete
You can help your clients to be proactive about their FMLA compliance as well as prepared to address other vital HR issues by offering them a new HRAnswerLink service: HR Complete. The HR Complete service could save your clients thousands of dollars in HR costs and non-compliance costs from litigation and fines. HR Complete includes valuable resources and tools, such as auditing and compliance checks, which can give your clients peace of mind that their HR affairs are in order. Each client also has access to their own HR Pro to help them develop and implement a compliance plan for their workplace.
It’s best for employers to be proactive and spend time reviewing their FMLA compliance, so they’re ready for an audit should the DOL come calling. You can assist your clients’ compliance efforts by offering them easy-to-use, affordable HR services, which can help them avoid the potentially costly consequences of FMLA violations.