Family and Medical Leave Act Update Synopsis
By Kathleen Pohlid Founder & 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).
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.