Understanding New Opinion Letter Regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act

Learn about the DOL’s new opinion letter on the FMLA.

Recently, the DOL (Department of Labor) announced the introduction of an opinion letter regarding wage and hour compliance with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  The opinion letter (FMLA2019-1-A) lays out the DOL’s official written opinion on employers’ obligation to designate FMLA.  Curious to learn about DOL’s new opinion letter on FMLA application and regulation?  Then read on to learn more.

Currently, many employers have allowed their employees to designate when they use their FMLA leave time.  Subsequently, employees often choose to rely on their employer-offered paid time off and save their FMLA leave time for a later qualifying event.

However, in its opinion letter, the DOL explains that it is up the employer to determine when an employee uses their FMLA leave.  When the employer determines that an employee’s leave qualifies for FMLA, they need to submit a “designation notice” to the employee within five days.  This five-day regulation means that employers cannot delay the start of FMLA leave if the absence is for a qualifying reason.  The employer must officially invoke FMLA leave even if the employee requests them to hold off.

The opinion letter also provides clarification on expanding FMLA leave time.  The letter explains that, while an employer can offer their staff benefit programs that offer family and medical leave rights, they cannot formally extend FMLA leave past the allocated 12 weeks (or 26 weeks for covered military caregiver leave).

This is what employers and employees alike need to understand about the DOL’s new opinion letter regarding the FMLA.  Stay up to date on the latest business risk and commercial insurance news by contacting CIA Insurance and Risk Management.  Our dedicated team is eager to assist you with all your coverage needs today.

Post written by Sophia Najjar, Vice President | Commercial Risk Management (CRM)

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