Family and Medical Leave Act Update Synopsis

By Kathleen Pohlid Founder and Managing Member, Pohlid, PLLC | April 22, 2012

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year and requires that their group health benefits be maintained during those periods. Since its enactment, it is estimated that over 50 million employees have taken FMLA leave, primarily for their own illness or that of a family member. Recently, changes have extended FMLA to apply to military family member’s service related incidents and to include persons in non-traditional families who assume parental caregiving responsibilities. Because any employee may potentially seek to utilize FMLA, it is important that hotel establishments review their policies to ensure they are compliant. This article provides a brief synopsis of the FMLA and recent developments:

FMLA Qualifying Events

Employers covered under federal FMLA must provide an eligible employee with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for any of the following reasons:

  • the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
  • the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
  • to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
  • a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;
  • any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty;” or
  • Twenty-six workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the servicemember’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (military caregiver leave).

FMLA Coverage

Hotel establishments that employ 50 or more employees during 20 or more calendar workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year are required to comply with the FMLA. Those who do not meet this threshold are cautioned that several states – for example, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, along with the District of Columbia – have state law FLMA provisions. Since state FMLA laws may be more stringent than federal law requirements, establishments must also be aware of their state jurisdictional requirements. Additionally, hotel establishments should also be aware that FMLA coverage applies to joint employer relationships in which two or more entities exercise some control over the work or working conditions of the employee. In such instances, all of the entities comprising the joint employer relationship are obligated to comply with the FMLA and the employees are counted for coverage purposes even if they are not on an entity’s payroll.

Employee Eligiblity

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.