FMLA and ADA: The difficult task of navigating employee leaves!

Posted by Christy Putnam on February 6, 2019 at 2:56 PM

FMLA and ADANavigating employee leave acts can be one of the most confusing and stressful tasks for employers and HR professionals. These regulations are typically complicated and must be handled correctly, or there can be serious consequences. Many employers encounter events that cause them to ask, "Is this a Workers’ Compensation situation or an ADA restriction? And when does FMLA apply?"

The Department of Labor (DOL) defines the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as, “A federal law that protects the rights of people with disabilities by eliminating barriers to their participation in many aspects of working and living in America.” This law applies to employers with 15 or more employees. It is designed to provide reasonable accommodations for qualified employees with disabilities so that they may perform essential job functions. These accommodations may include modifying work schedules, changing test or training materials, and modifying equipment or facilities for enhanced accessibility. An employer is not required to provide a reasonable accommodation if it causes an 'undue hardship'. There are tax incentives available (e.g. Small Business Tax Credit, Work Opportunity Tax Credit, and Architectural/Transportation Tax Deduction) to qualifying organizations who make businesses accessible to people with disabilities. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), along with several other federal agencies, are responsible for the enforcement, and investigation of claims, involving ADA regulations. The EEOC provides an ADA: Questions and Answers resource full of basic information.

While the ADA does not specifically require employers to provide medical leave, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees up to 12 weeks of leave for treatment and/or recovery from serious health conditions. FMLA typically applies to employers with 50 or more employees. Employees also must have worked for the same employer for at least 12 months (i.e. at least 1,250 hours) just prior to the leave. FMLA is typically unpaid, but employers can require employees to utilize accrued time-off such as PTO, sick time, and vacation time. The Department of Labor (DOL) is charged with enforcing FMLA regulations. They offer an interactive FMLA Advisor for employers and employees.

One of the best places to start is with the
Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act, which we have made available here.
Click the image below to download this valuable document.

The Employer's Guide to The Family & Medical Leave Act

There are common situations where different leave types intersect. When this happens, it is important to understand each set of regulations in order to determine which laws apply to employees as a group and which law’s apply to an employee’s specific situation.

In addition to the guide above, we are offering a free webinar on Thursday, February 21 that explores key regulations and employer best practices when it comes to employee leaves. You can register for Leave of Absence: Navigating the FMLA & ADA right here. When registering for the session, please ensure that you enter ‘Bennett/Porter & Associates’ in the registration field that reads “Please provide the name of the company that referred you to this webinar.”

Topics: Human Resources, HR Compliance, HR Policies

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