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FMLA Compliance and More – The Slippery Slope!

hr best practices hr compliance hr department hr management Sep 20, 2022

Human resources has never been the spider web of regulations as it is today. Little has changed for employers at the federal level, but what is happening at the state and local level is enough to make any HR professional or small business owner’s head spin. If you interact with other leaders at business and community events, you often hear about HR initiatives that may or may not apply to your business.

One example is the Family and Medical Leave Act, better known as FMLA. All employees have come to expect that their employer will give them 12 weeks off work for their illness or their immediate family. But not so quick! FMLA only applies to businesses that have over 50 employees within 75 miles. So, if you have fewer than 50 employees – or you have multiple locations that are not within that geographic area, you don’t have to comply with Federal Law. Be sure you check state requirements as they are starting to creep into the conversation.

What does it mean to comply with FMLA, anyway?

In giving an employee FMLA, you essentially are only agreeing to hold their job open for 12 weeks. When an employee is on FMLA leave, the time is unpaid, so the liability to the business is minimal. However, during the leave you do have to continue paying their benefit premium so there is some expense. Employees are required to pay their portion as well. And... other employees working overtime and using temps to complete the work is a real expense that will likely be incurred.

In the tight job market we have, it can take 12 weeks or more to replace an employee. And even if you find a candidate you are excited about, by the time they start and get trained, your experienced employee could be back at work. It may be in your best interest to give employees the 12 weeks off even if you are not obligated to comply.

If you aren’t obligated to provide FMLA, but choose to as a business decision, there are a few things to be aware of. Don’t promise all employees you will always comply. The decision should be made on a case by case basis for each situation. Sometimes you won’t be able to hold a job, and why force yourself to do that. Once you determine you want to provide the leave, be sure to use the official government forms. You can find those by visiting the U.S. Department of Labor’s website.

Want to learn more about what does and does not impact your small business? We Invite you to download our compliance chart now. This will outline for you the major national laws and who they apply to. We provide links to the government website so you can get more information as you need it.

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