Navigating FMLA Leave: A Guide for Employers

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FMLA leave, or the Family and Medical Leave Act, is a type of job-protected leave that employers must provide to eligible employees who need time off for certain family or medical reasons. It is important for employers and HR managers to understand FMLA leave and the regulations surrounding it to ensure compliance and to support employees during their time of need.

What is FMLA Leave?

FMLA leave is a type of leave that allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for certain family or medical reasons. Eligible employees must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months.

Types of leave covered by FMLA include

  • The birth or adoption of a child;
  • Caring for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition;
  • The employees own serious health condition that prevents them from performing their job;
  • Certain situations related to military service, such as caring for a service member with a serious injury or illness.

Benefits of FMLA Leave

FMLA leave provides numerous benefits for both employees and employers.

Benefits for employees include:

  • Job protection and the ability to return to their job or an equivalent position after their leave ends;
  • Continuation of health insurance benefits during their leave;
  • Time to recover from a serious health condition or care for a family member without the worry of losing their job.

Benefits for employers include:

  • Compliance with federal regulations;
  • Increased employee loyalty and retention;
  • Positive impact on company culture and employee morale.

Rules and Regulations for FMLA Leave

FMLA regulations differ by country.

In the United States, the FMLA covers eligible employees who work for covered employers, which includes all public agencies and private companies with 50 or more employees.

In Canada, eligible employees are covered by the Canada Labour Code or the provincial Employment Standards Act, depending on the province in which they work.

In Australia, eligible employees are covered by the National Employment Standards.

While there are similarities among the different countries’ FMLA policies, there are also some differences. For example, in the US, eligible employees may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year, while in Canada, eligible employees may take up to 18 weeks of unpaid leave per year for various reasons.

Why Employers Should Consider Having FMLA Leave Policy

FMLA leave can provide many benefits for employers. It can help retain employees who may otherwise leave to care for themselves or their family members, improve employee morale, and reduce turnover costs. However, to reap these benefits, it is important for employers to create a clear and comprehensive FMLA leave policy.

When creating an FMLA leave policy, employers should consider including the following:

  • Eligibility criteria: Clearly define the eligibility criteria for employees, including the minimum length of service, hours worked, and other qualifying factors.
  • Notice requirements: Outline the notice requirements for employees to request FMLA leave, including how far in advance notice must be given and the method of communication.
  • Certification process: Establish a process for employees to provide medical certification and recertification for their leave, and include a mechanism for seeking a second opinion if necessary.
  • Leave entitlement: Clearly define the amount of leave entitlement that employees are entitled to, as well as the types of leave covered by the policy.
  • Job restoration: Specify the employee’s right to be restored to their same or an equivalent job upon returning from FMLA leave.
  • Maintenance of benefits: Ensure that employees continue to receive their benefits during their FMLA leave, including health insurance and other benefits.
  • Recordkeeping: Establish a system for tracking and monitoring FMLA leave usage to ensure compliance with the policy and the law.

Best Practices for Managing FMLA Leave Requests

Managing FMLA leave requests can be challenging for employers, especially when multiple employees are out on leave at the same time. To effectively manage FMLA leave requests, employers should consider the following best practices:

  • Train managers: Train managers on the FMLA policy and their responsibilities, including how to recognize and respond to FMLA leave requests.
  • Use technology: Consider using leave management software, such as actiPLANS, to streamline the process and ensure compliance with the policy and the law.
  • Communicate with employees: Communicate regularly with employees on FMLA leave to ensure a smooth transition back to work and to minimize disruptions to the business.
  • Maintain confidentiality: Protect employees’ privacy and maintain confidentiality in the handling of FMLA leave requests and medical certification.

Supporting Employees Returning to Work After FMLA Leave

Returning to work after FMLA leave can be a difficult transition for employees. To support employees during this time, employers should consider the following:

  • Communicate with employees: Communicate with employees prior to their return to work to discuss any changes in job duties or responsibilities, and to provide information on any changes to the workplace or policies.
  • Be flexible: Be flexible with scheduling and work arrangements to accommodate any ongoing medical needs or other responsibilities.
  • Provide resources: Provide employees with resources and support to help with the transition back to work, such as employee assistance programs, counseling services, or training programs.
  • Recognize achievements: Recognize and celebrate employees’ achievements upon their return to work to boost morale and encourage engagement.


FMLA leave is an important benefit that employers should provide to their employees. By understanding the rules and regulations, creating a clear and comprehensive policy, and effectively managing leave requests, employers can provide a positive impact on company culture and employee retention. The use of technology, such as leave management software, can help streamline the process and ensure compliance with the policy and the law.

For employers looking to effectively manage their FMLA leave policy, consider using actiPLANS leave management software. With actiPLANS, you can streamline the process, track and monitor leave usage, and ensure compliance with the FMLA policy and the law.

The platform offers an innovative approach to streamline team schedules and attendance management. It improves the process of managing leaves and automates PTO calculations.

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