DOL Brings Us Back to the Basics of FMLA

The Department of Labor (“DOL”) clarified in a recent opinion letter that once an employer knows an employee’s requested leave is protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), the employer must designate it as FMLA leave regardless of whether a delay of such designation is permitted by a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”).

The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. The opinion highlights basic FMLA principles all covered employers should follow:

Notice Within 5 Business Days

Once an employer learns of a FMLA-qualifying leave request by an employee, an employer must designate leave as FMLA-qualifying and give notice of the designation to the employee in writing within 5 business days. Failure to do so may constitute an interference with, restraint on, or denial of the exercise of an employees’ FMLA rights.

Neither Employee Nor Employer May Delay FMLA Designation

Once an employee communicates that he or she needs to take leave for a FMLA-qualifying reason, neither the employee nor the employer may decline or delay FMLA protection for that leave.

Employer Policies Must Comply with FMLA

If employers have policies, benefit programs, and CBAs that may provide more generous leave, they still must comply with the FMLA. For example, the terms of these agreements may not reduce or deny FMLA benefits and protections.

For more information on complying with the FMLA, check out ComplianceDashboard and our previous blog on the ABC’s of FMLA!



The information and content contained in this blog post are for general informational purposes only, and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.


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