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Compliance Partner General FMLA: Who's count...
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FMLA: Who's counting?
By Darlene Clabault
 
If you're one of the “lucky” HR professionals who gets to administer FMLA, you know what it’s like to think through an employee's absence that could be an FMLA situation. This can get more complicated when the employee takes leave on an intermittent basis. Often, such a situation involves numbers. Perhaps lots of numbers.
 
On the surface, the FMLA seems so clear and easy: Eligible employees of covered employers are entitled to up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave in a 12-month period for certain qualifying reasons.
 
But the devil is in the details and the questions surrounding those details. Does an employee meet the eligibility criteria? How can you tell how much leave a particular employee has available? What are your obligations when an employee puts you on notice of the need for leave? What about all that paperwork? Much of the answers involve some form of calculation.
 
If you're not a numbers person, the FMLA may seem all the more ominous, as it is fraught with them:
 
• An employer is covered if it has at least 50 employees who worked at least 20 workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year.
 
• Employees are eligible if they have worked at least 12 months, worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months before leave is to begin, and work at a site with at least 50 company employees within 75 miles.
 
• Once an employee puts you on notice of the need for leave, you have 5 business days to provide an eligibility/rights & responsibilities notice.
 
• If you request a certification, the employee has 15 calendar days to return it to you.
 
• If the certification is not complete or sufficient, the employee has 7 days to fix it.
 
• Eligible employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave in a 12-month period for most qualifying reasons.
 
• Once you have enough information to determine whether the leave qualifies for FMLA protections, you have 5 business days to provide the employee with a designation notice.
 
With the FMLA, some of the most number-intensive elements involve tracking leave. If an employee takes leave in full week increments, you need only count the weeks. If, however, an employee takes leave in increments of less than a full week, such as the case with intermittent or reduced schedule leave, the tracking becomes much more complex.
 
Employees may take leave in small increments. In many situations, the need for leave is unforeseeable, and some quick calculations might be required. 
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