In a break from COVID-19 issues, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on July 17, 2020, issued new model notices and forms for employers use when administering employee leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
These forms are optional and are not specifically required by the FMLA. (Employers and employees may use any format that provides the necessary information under FMLA.)
The DOL revised the forms to make them easier for employers, employees, leave administrators and healthcare providers to understand and convey and collect information necessary for an employee’s leave under the FMLA. They may be worth a look.
Some of the changes in the forms are as follows:
- Employee rights and responsibilities are separated in a more direct manner than previously.
- The new form provides a clearer explanation that paid leave provided by the employer runs concurrently with FMLA.
- The new form includes a listing of family members that can be checked for family leave when caring for a family member.
- The new form makes it clear that employers are obligated to designate a leave as FMLA whenever the leave is covered by FMLA. Employers are obligated to do so even if the employee and/or the employer do not want to apply FMLA.
- This form also includes an explanation of how paid leave time provided by the employer will run concurrently with FMLA.
- The new form also outlines the steps that must be taken to resolve any incomplete or insufficient certification specifically calling out that employers are required to explain what is missing or insufficient.
- This new form provides clarity that certification is not necessary for FMLA leave to bond with a newborn child or child placed for adoption or foster care.
- This form also provides a place for a “best estimate” of the employee or family member’s future treatment.
- The new form also provides a box for the health care provide to confirm that there is no serious health condition.
New FMLA Forms – Feedback
With the release of these new forms, the DOL is requesting feedback from employers and employees on potential changes to the FMLA regulations. The DOL is seeking opinions on several aspects of FMLA administration, including:
- What employers/employees would like to see changed in FMLA regulations to implement everyone’s rights and obligations under FMLA
- Challenges employers/employees have with the medical certification process
- Challenges employers/employees experience in applying the definition of serious health condition
- Challenges employers/employees experience when employees take intermittent FMLA
- Whether additional guidance would be helpful regarding the interpretations contained in opinion letters issued in the last two years
- Specific information or any other data regarding other challenges employers have in administering FMLA
Information on the complete list of feedback questions and how to provide feedback can be found on the DOL website. Employers may want to have their voice heard and check it out. Comments must be submitted by Sept. 15, 2020.