Administering employee leaves of absence is complicated. For employers of 50 or more employees there obviously are the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and D.O.L. regulations to deal with. Then there is the EEOC, which has interpreted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to require leaves of absence, or extending them under certain circumstances as a reasonable accommodation of an individual's disability. Add worker compensation laws that provide for reinstatement of employees following a work-related illness or injury, as well as an ever growing list of other federal, state and, more recently, local laws governing what employers may or may not do about employee absences and even the most experienced HR professionals have their hands full. Monitoring FMLA leave (especially intermittent leave), work-related absences, military leave, leave as an accommodation and all the legalities of when and how to return workers from such leaves, can be overwhelming. Not surprisingly, many employers have turned to outsourcing these functions, ostensibly to avoid all the hassles and legal pitfalls they present. However, as a recent U.S. Court of Appeals decision demonstrates all too clearly, turning these responsibilities over to a third party does not rid an employer of responsibility, or liability, for complying with the many workplace leave laws that are at play.
Substance abuse (whether it be related to alcohol or drug use) is a potentially serious workplace issue that can quickly become extremely complicated. It is very important for all Employers to keep in mind that substance abuse can, in and of itself, be considered as a serious health condition and as such, may come under coverage of the Family Medical Leave Act and allow the Employee to be qualified for FMLA Leave.
Did you Count Temp and Part-Time Employees?
If you are a Company covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees are entitled to leave (either consecutive or intermittent) of up to 12 work weeks of leave in a 12 month period under certain circumstances. PLUS the Company must continue to pay the employer's share of the employee's individual group health insurance premiums during the leave. These entitlements can be very disruptive and costly to an employer. So, is your Company covered?? Does your Company have to have and follow an FMLA policy?
"The ADA is an antidiscrimination statute, not a medical-leave entitlement." These are the words employers have been waiting more than 25 years to hear, since the date the ADA first became effective, and even more so after the passage of the Family Medical Leave Act in 1993. They address an issue that has vexed employers since day one; that is, whether the duty to accommodate requires an employer to provide an extended medical leave after an employee has exhausted all of the medical leave available to him under the FMLA. The EEOC has vigorously contended that it does, particularly where the proposed leave is of a definite, time limited duration; requested in advance; and, likely to enable the employee to perform the essential functions of his job upon his return. On September 20, 2017, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals flatly rejected the EEOC's contention.
As most employers know, the Department of Labor Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) forms which were initially issued in the early 1990s expired as of December 31, 2011. The Department of Labor (DOL) has been working with the Office of Management and Budget to extend the life of these forms and received approval that their model forms will be extended through February 28, 2015. Unfortunately, the DOL has made very few changes to those forms to incorporate any required modifications with regard to the expansion of Military Family Leave and the provisions of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008 (GINA).