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Navigating the Family and Medical Leave Act with the Department of Labor’s elaws® Advisor

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 4/10/2012
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The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was enacted to balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of families by allowing eligible employees reasonable leave for various qualifying reasons, including health, military caregiver, and family leave. Though simple in theory, the FMLA can be quite complicated in practice. Since violations of the FMLA can be costly, it is important to understand what the law requires.

To help employers and employees understand their rights and responsibilities, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) created an elaws® Advisor for the FMLA. Importantly, the FMLA Advisor was recently updated to reflect previous changes to the law and its interpretive regulations. It can be found here.

The elaws® Advisors are interactive tools that provide easy-to-understand information about a number of federal employment laws. Each Advisor simulates an interaction by asking questions and providing answers based on responses.

Following this format, the FMLA Advisor can help identify which employers are covered by the law, which employees are eligible for FMLA leave, what entitlements and benefits are provided under the law, and in what situations FMLA leave may be used.

Following a general overview of the law, the Advisor addresses coverage issues under the FMLA.

For example, the Advisor can be used to determine whether an employer is covered by the FMLA. Upon identifying the employer as a private employer, a school, or a governmental entity, the Advisor provides additional questions designed to lead the user to the relevant statutory provisions and to provide general guidance. Users may also find additional information by viewing the Advisor’s glossary of relevant FMLA-related terms.

The Advisor is an excellent starting point for those seeking information about the FMLA’s requirements. However, understanding that a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing, it is important to note that the FMLA Advisor is only intended to provide general information and guidance.

Users should also be aware that there are often delays between the date a change in the law becomes effective and the date the Advisor is updated. That the FMLA Advisor was just recently updated to reflect changes that took place long ago confirms the possibility of receiving outdated information.

If additional information or further assistance is needed, users are directed to contact their local Wage and Hour Division office.

If you would like to learn more about potential employment-related liabilities, please view our library of online courses or contact us.

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