Feds clarify FMLA reg — and it’s good news

It’s finally clear: When requesting Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) time off, your employees are obligated to follow company policies and procedures.

That’s the upshot of a recent Opinion Letter from the Department of Labor (DOL), which clarifies the confusion surrounding the agency’s “two-day rule.”

FMLA regs require employees to provide 30 days’ notice for any leave that’s foreseeable (like childbirth). But when the need’s unforeseeable — like a sudden illness — the rules have been a little muddier.

That’s because a 1999 opinion letter stated that employees had two business days to let their employers know they’d be out on FMLA leave — and the employer couldn’t penalize workers who didn’t follow company notification procedures, if those procedures were stricter than the two-day requirement.

Early this year, FMLA rules were officially changed to allow employers to require that employees follow internal notification policies when asking for covered leave. The recent opinion letter reiterates the new FMLA rules and rescinds the 1999 letter.

Bottom line: You can ask employees to follow your normal notification procedures when asking for FMLA leave.

For a look at the recent letter (DOL Opinion Letter FMLA2009-1-A), go here.

0 thoughts on “Feds clarify FMLA reg — and it’s good news”

  1. This seems a little vague. Are you saying that employees are somehow expected to notify their employers two days in advance of, say, falling downstairs and breaking a leg? Or that, say, if an employer (reasonably enough) requires employees to phone in sick by 8:30am for a 9:00am start, an employee who lives 20min away who falls downstairs and breaks a leg while rushing for the bus at 8:35 could be fired for failure to notify?

    The law cannot require the impossible, and employers who require the impossible of their employees do not deserve to have them.

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