DOL To Begin Increased On-Site FMLA Compliance Investigations
The head of the U.S. Department of Labor FMLA Branch has announced DOL will focus on conducting more on-site compliance investigations to: (1) increase investigators’ access to information; and (2) save time by reviewing the employer’s documents and interviewing employees on-site.
What DOL Will Be Looking For
The areas likely to be focused on by DOL investigators include those situations where employers frequently run into problems understanding and complying with the FMLA regulations, such as:
• Failing or refusing to authorize FMLA leave for an eligible employee;
• Discouraging a worker from using FMLA leave;
• Using an employee’s request for or use of FMLA leave a negative factor in employment actions; and
• Systemic violations (such as policies that violate FMLA, failure to provide correct notices).
Employers, with the assistance of employment counsel, should conduct an audit of their FMLA policies, practices, and procedures to get ready before you hear from DOL that it wants to come visit your work site for an FMLA investigation.
What Your FMLA Audit Should Cover
Your FMLA audit should include:
• Making sure you are displaying the DOL’s new 2013 FMLA poster where employees and applicants can see it (this must be done in addition to having it in the handbook);
• Making sure the FMLA policy in the employee handbooks and FMLA forms comply with the DOL’s February 2013 regulations;
• Making sure you have an FMLA packet to give to employees, which includes the company’s FMLA policy and all of the current required forms;
• Making sure you have maintained complete files for all workers who have requested or taken FMLA leave for the last three years, including the dates of any FMLA leaves, and you have kept copies of all correspondence, notices, certifications, benefit documents and disputes relating to such leave;
• Training your managers to recognize when absences or leave requests have FMLA implications; and
• Making sure your attendance policy complies with the ADA and the FMLA (watch out for automatic termination after certain lengths of absence regardless of the circumstances).
It is critical to get your house in order before the DOL investigator knocks on your door!
If you need help making sure your FMLA policies and procedures are up to date, schedule a free initial consultation with Adair Buckner, an Amarillo Board Certified Labor and Employment Attorney.
Adair M. Buckner, Attorney at Law, is Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Her other areas of practice include business law, business disputes, commercial litigation, estate planning, and probate. You can reach Adair at (806)-220-0150 or firstname.lastname@example.org. This material is not intended to be legal advice. The contents are intended for general information purposes only.
*(The free consultation does not cover actual review of documents or giving legal advice on a specific situation.)