FMLA Plus Statutory Leave Laws Equal Challenges for Employers

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The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) offers protections to employees for family and medical needs in all the United States. But some states have decided that FMLA doesn’t go far enough. They have responded by enacting laws of their own to offer employees protections that extend beyond those offered by the FMLA.

Identifying the interactions between federal and state laws is challenging for employers. For example, FMLA defines a family member as a child, parent, or spouse. But the Oregon Family Leave Law expands beyond the federal FMLA law to include  a parent-in-law, grandparent or grandchild. So, in Oregon, an employee may be eligible for Oregon Family Leave but not for FMLA. California is another state with statutory requirements. California has a California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and a Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDL), so if an employee is on leave due to a pregnancy related disability, PDL applies and can run concurrently with FMLA, not the CFRA.

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg and with more states enacting laws to address perceived gaps in coverage, the challenges for employers are growing.

At Creative Benefits, we are experts at this process. We get our clients through the maze of family and medical leave legislation. When an employee needs a leave, we calculate what they are eligible for, taking every statutory leave law into consideration. Our software is constantly updated and filtered through the United States Department of Labor. This frees our clients – busy HR professionals who have lots on their plate – to concentrate on other things.

For large companies, outsourcing makes sense. Creative Benefits goes through each case in detail to define what protections an employee is owed. We also handle paperwork, processing, management, documentation, and return to work coordination, keeping the client informed so they know the status of the leave during the entire process. With our help, HR personnel can focus on other parts of their job, such as benefits, payroll and staffing.

Employees today are well informed and lawsuits are becoming more frequent. Employers need to be very careful. We track and record every leave-related activity in detail so our clients are in a better position to address claims if they occur. With proper administration and documentation of employee family and medical leaves, it is easier to defend against a claim.

There’s also a human benefit – employees often are uncomfortable disclosing intimate personal information to someone they know in HR, whom they see in the hallway or cafeteria. Our experience is also that most HR personnel would rather not know the details of their colleagues’ personal lives. Family and medical leaves are personal, and stressful for most people. It is more comfortable for employees to talk candidly with Creative Benefits than to talk to someone they see at work every day.

Give us a call to discuss how we can help you manage your company’s family and medical leave administration.

About the author: Kelly Fitzgerald is an Account Manager and FMLA Specialist with Creative Benefits, Inc. She assists clients with Family and Medical Leave Administration and provides consultative services to employers and their employees.