The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) passed almost thirty years ago, but it continues to confound HR representatives and companies today.

The act effects almost every company, so it is not something that can be avoided. Companies should be aware of how pervasive this act’s requirements are and how to best avoid failing into one of its pitfalls.

The FMLA has been used over 100 million times since its enactment in 1993.

Over half of those usages have been for personal medical conditions. About 20% of leaves have been taken due to the birth or adoption of a child, and slightly less than that for care of other family members. At any one time, over ten percent of the entire American work force is on FMLA leave. These numbers should illustrate to companies the pervasiveness of the FMLA and how ignorance of its requirements will only cost companies a great deal of money in the future.

Companies may recoil at the costs of compliance, but the FMLA is certainly a case of “pay a bit now, or a lot later.”

In 2018, over half of all complaints brought to the Department of Labor resulted in violations. In addition, the average cost of defending an FMLA complaint is $78,000, which is before accounting for fines and damages awarded. Noncompliance is an expensive risk.

Companies need to take efforts to have strong preventative measures in place.

There needs to be a clear policy in place outlining for employees the leave taking process and how leave is determined. Employees (and managers) need to be aware of which medical certifications are required and how vacation time is used in conjunction with FMLA leave. Using PTO concurrently with FMLA leave rather than consecutively may upset employees but makes things easier to calculate when FMLA time is exhausted.

FMLA leave can be a complicated issue for employers to address.

Managers and HR professionals need to work with their counsel to ensure compliance on the front end to avoid expensive litigation in the future. Contact a Goosmann Law attorney today with any questions!


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