If you’re an employer of 50 or more, you have likely had the experience of handling an employee’s leave of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and know just how many forms are required to  process and authorize an employee’s FML leave. Just recently, the Department of Labor (DOL) have revised many of these forms, resulting in some extensive changes that will hopefully improve the usability and completion of these forms.

While the revisions do not alter the substance of leave benefits and protections available to covered employees under the FMLA, the newly updated forms do include more questions which can be answered by checking response boxes instead of previously required written responses. And with regard to safety concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic, the forms now include electronic signature features to allow for contactless completion and transmission of completed forms. There have been no changes to the FMLA notice that covered employers are required to post in the workplace at this time.

Among the forms overhauled and updated are the notice of eligibility and rights and responsibilitiesdesignation notice;  medical certification of an employee’s serious health condition; and medical certification of a family member’s serious health condition.

The first form change is in the notice of eligibility and rights/responsibilities. This new notice has been reorganized into seven topics related to an employee’s FMLA leave and return to work.

The DOL also aligned the notice more closely with the leave regulations, including:

  • Requiring an employer to indicate how far short of the 1,250 hours of service requirement an employee is if a worker does not meet that eligibility criterion. The DOL notes that one of the requirements for an employee to be eligible to take leave under the FMLA is having worked 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of leave.
  • The option for an employer to indicate the effect that FMLA leave has on employee benefits other than health insurance.
  • Whether FMLA leave will run concurrently with workers’ compensation, any applicable disability insurance coverage or leave required by state law.

Medical Certification Forms for Individual and Family Members

The revised health care provider certification for an employee’s own serious health condition or a family member’s condition now requires the health care provider to provide a “best estimate” of the employee’s or family member’s future treatment.

The certification for an employee’s own serious health condition asks the health care provider to describe at least one essential job function that the employee is unable to perform.

Use of the FMLA Forms

There have been no changes in the required use of the DOL’s model forms and employers do not have to use those supplied by the DOL. There is also no requirement for an employee who has already provided the required FMLA information to their employer to complete any new paperwork, unless recertification is otherwise permitted under the FMLA regulations.

The DOL is also seeking input from the public regarding the regulations implementing the FMLA, concerning the current regulations’ effectiveness, and  feedback on what employers and employees would like to see changed in the FMLA regulations to better effectuate the rights and obligations under the FMLA.

Members of the public are encouraged to complete and submit the DOL’s Request for Information to provide their input. Public comments will be accepted until September 15, 2020 and may be submitted electronically, through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov, or by mail.

We at JB Consulting Systems know and understand that working through an employee’s leave of absence under the FML process is time consuming and difficult. We are here to help employers with their Leave Management program. If you’d like further information on how we can assist you, please contact us at HRhelp.