• The DOL’s Step-By-Step Guide To The FMLA
  • September 7, 2012 | Authors: Ashley Z. Hager; Tashwanda C. Pinchback
  • Law Firm: Troutman Sanders LLP - Atlanta Office
  • In an effort to spread the word about the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), the Department of Labor ("DOL") has issued a new guide designed to assist employees with understanding and navigating the FMLA. The Employee’s Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act (the “Employee Guide”) does not present any new information, but it attempts to explain what we already know about the FMLA in a clear and easy-to-read format.

    Although the Employee Guide is directed to employees, the information it provides is helpful to employers because of its easy-to-read nature. For example, it provides a basic description of the FMLA and step-by-step eligibility requirements. It also provides step-by-step instructions regarding the FMLA leave process. This includes both the employer’s obligations and the employee’s responsibilities for successfully navigating the FMLA leave application process and the medical certification process (when medical certification is required by the employer). The Employee Guide further outlines the time limits for responding to an employee’s request for FMLA leave and an employer’s request for medical certification. Each of the aforementioned topics in the Employee Guide (Eligibility for FMLA Leave, The FMLA Leave Process, and Medical Certifications) is accompanied by a flow chart that is very easy to follow and describes each topic.

    While the Employee Guide is a helpful resource, employers should realize that it only presents a basic overview of the FMLA. The Employee Guide does not include many of the issues that courts have already addressed or defined for purposes of implementing the FMLA. Moreover, it is not a substitute for the actual FMLA regulations. Consequently, employers should still seek legal review of their FMLA-leave policies and practices to ensure that they comply with the law.