How well do you know the protections of the Family Medical Leave
Act (FMLA)? I hope you are brushing up on them (or have our number
handy), because the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Department
of Labor (DOL) recently released a friendly, easy-to-understand
Employee Guide (1,2) entitled "Need
Time? The Employee's Guide to the FMLA" to help
employees thoroughly understand their rights under the FMLA.
The Guide is written in plain English and is designed to help
employees across a variety of sophistication levels avail
themselves of their rights under the FMLA. It explains various
types of serious health conditions that may qualify for FMLA leave,
discusses very generally the types of military family leave,
explains what in loco parentis status means (any child an
employee has day-to-day care and financial support obligations for,
regardless of legal relationship), and includes a number of
flow-charts to help employees understand when their rights to
leave, the certification process, reinstatement, and how to file a
complaint if the employee is concerned his/her rights have been
violated. The website also includes a link to a webinar
on the FMLA given on June 27, which walked through the Employee
Guide and explained the high points of the FMLA.
Any citizen understanding his or her rights under the law is not
a bad thing. But for an unprepared employer, an employee who has
even a cursory understanding of his rights under the FMLA, can be a
dangerous thing. If you haven't looked at your obligations
under the FMLA, now is a good time. The WHD has made it very easy
for an employee to understand his rights and file a complaint if
you don't. However, the Employee's Guide, particularly the
flow-charts, can be used by employers to confirm that both the
employer and employee have fulfilled all their respective
obligations under the Act. For example, the certification process
is often confusing for employees and employers alike. The Employee
Guide provides a simple, step-by-step on pages 12-13 that will help
employers confirm they are getting the right information at the
At a minimum, employers should consider this basic guide to be
how the DOL perceives the FMLA should work, and should adjust their
behavior accordingly. While the employee may not follow the lyrics
of the Rolling Stones tune exactly, e.g., "you'll come
running back," a smart employer wants to be prepared and will
know its obligations under the FMLA so it can explain to the
employee along the way that while "you can't always get
what you want, if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get
what you need."
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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A female employee traveling for her employer met a "friend" and at her motel room with him became "injured whilst engaging in sexual intercourse when a glass light fitting above the bed was pulled from its mount and fell on her."