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On April 25, 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL) released a new guide to help employers administer the FMLA requirements. According to Jeff Nowak, who shared the news and link on his FMLA Insights blog, the guide aims to “provide essential information about the FMLA, including information about employers’ obligations under the law and the options available to employers in administering leave under the FMLA.”

Nowak notes that the user-friendly guide targets some of the more obtuse situations faced by employers in adhering to the FMLA and its regulations, such as:

  • Following the FMLA regulations and the course of a typical leave request in a relatively friendly manner; 
  • Understanding the typical FMLA process by providing easy to follow flowcharts, including a “Road Map to the FMLA” that provides an overview of the FMLA process;
  • Giving employers a heads-up on some of the lesser-known provisions and nuances of the FMLA regulations with “Did You Know?” sections;
  • The medical certification process, including what information is required in certifications, with user-friendly charts and explanation; and
  • The military family leave, which (as Nowak states) “often can be a bit overwhelming to employers attempting to navigate this portion of the FMLA.”

The guide aims to help employers navigate through the FMLA process using typically encountered situations – step-by-step to their proper conclusion. While not a remarkable breakthrough, this guide is the start of a governmental agency helping management understand and properly implement the law, as opposed to simply waiting for what are often innocent mistakes and then seizing upon the opportunity for an enforcement action, fines, and the like.

Additionally, the DOL issued a new FMLA notice that it will require employers to post in their workplaces. It was noted by Helen Applewhaite, the DOL’s Branch Chief for the FMLA, that while the poster offers little in the way of substantive changes, the revised version has been reorganized for clarity.

Employers are encouraged to visit the Department of Labor’s webpage at www.dol.gov to review these updates and access the new poster and user guide for themselves. These updates and tools are a step in the right direction to help enhance the prospects for compliance when management is faced with the challenging law and regulations surrounding the proper implementation of the FMLA.

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