Legal Updates & Reminders
- 1, 2017: Effective date of recently announced minimum wage increase to $10.20/hr. for certain Federal contractors.
- Oct. 25, 2016: Effective date of Final Rule on Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, referred to as the “Blacklisting” rule. Begins the phased implementation of disclosure of labor law violations for Federal contractors with procurement contracts valued at more than $500,000.
Attention: Common FMLA Pitfalls! ………don’t let your guard down, HR people
A new Quizzler! ………surrogate mothers and FMLA
An easy-to-implement health tip ………30 seconds to start
As you know, the FMLA is one of the most complicated laws to administer. Not only because it is so broad it impacts so many of your employees, but also because there are so many twists and turns in it that can trip up even the most diligent and attentive employer. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:
- No FMLA Policy: If the FMLA applies to your company, make sure you have a detailed FMLA policy that is circulated to all your employees. Of particular note is to make sure the policy is clear as to whether you have adopted the “rolling 12 month” or the “12 month calendar period” timeframe. Given the choice, your employee would probably choose the 12 month calendar period which would allow them to stack leave during the last 12 weeks of one year, and the first 12 weeks of the next year. As an employer, you would probably prefer the rolling 12 month period.
- Counting light-duty days as FMLA Leave: Light duty work can be offered to an employee unable to perform their regular job, but it cannot be required in lieu of FMLA leave.
- Untrained supervisors and managers: You don’t want your supervisors and managers administering FMLA, but they need to know enough to notify HR right away when they have an employee who is out of work for a reason that may qualify for it. A delay may allow an employee to take more than 12 weeks off, due to a late start in designating the leave.
- Missed Notices: There are four (4) notices required for employees. (1) General notice of FMLA rights; (2) eligibility notice within 5 days of the leave request; (3) a rights and responsibilities notice at the same time as the eligibility notice; and (4) a designation notice within 5 business days of determining that the leave qualifies as FMLA leave.
- Incomplete Certifications: Always be sure a serious health condition medical certification for intermittent leave clearly states the frequency and duration of the leave that is needed.
- No Exact Count of FMLA Leave: This is probably the most challenging of the pitfalls, made more complicated if you have an employee who has used intermittent FMLA leave. The most important caution here is to very carefully review each of the employee’s absences, if absence is all or a part of a reason for termination.
- Overlooking the ADA: A serious health condition that requires 12 weeks of FMLA leave will also probably constitute a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As such, additional leave may be required by the ADA as a reasonable accommodation.
Always be sure to check with your employment attorney before terminating an employee who is unable to return to work after 12 weeks on FMLA leave. It is a slippery slope you probably don’t want to face alone.
One of our employees is a surrogate mother for a friend of hers unable to bear a child. She’s being paid for this, and we don’t approve. What are our options regarding granting FMLA?
- Grant her FMLA leave. The FMLA covers pregnancy, and the circumstances are not relevant no matter what your personal feelings are.
- You don’t have to offer FMLA if she isn’t going to keep the child.
- You must grant her FMLA leave, but only for the time of her disability (usually, 6 weeks), as she will not need ‘bonding’ time with the new baby.
Be sure to read our discussion on this Quizzler topic, in the November issue of this newsletter!
After six+ hours of nightly sleep, our bodies get dehydrated. And most of us start our day with a cup of coffee — which is also dehydrating. Water, on the other hand, aids in both body regulation and brain function, and is closely related to balancing out our moods. A glass of ice water first thing in the morning can jolt our body in the right direction, and boost our alertness and early morning low energy level.
Fun fact: the human brain is made up of 73% water. Staying hydrated is important for maintaining optimal brain activity. Drinking water first thing in the morning can also help you stay healthy. When you’re sleeping, your body is in repair and recovery mode, and your immune system is working to rid your body of toxins. By drinking enough water, you can speed up that process to flush out those nasty toxins.
And finally, the essential carbohydrates and proteins that you consume daily are metabolized and transported by water throughout the body. Having a sufficient amount of water in your system, starting first thing in the morning, will help fire up your metabolism. This is an easy health tip all of us can implement — drink up!
The goal of this monthly e-newsletter is to briefly bring you current news in the HR world that could impact your company and how you interact with your employees, and also to share some tips and lessons learned for keeping your company compliant with the myriad of federal and state employment-related rules and regulations. This newsletter is not intended to provide legal guidance to you.