What’s on the Fed’s Radar? Part 3 – FMLA

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Thank you for following the Employers Resource five part series, “What’s on the Fed’s Radar?” If you missed them or need a refresher, you can find parts 1 and 2 at the links below.

What’s on the Fed’s Radar? Part 1 – FLSA Compliance

What’s on the Fed’s Radar? Part 2 – OSHA

Check back for part 4, coming soon!

What is FMLA?

FMLA is the Family and Medical Leave Act. It allows eligible employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. FMLA can be complex but you can find the basics here.

This article from Entrepreneur stated, “According to the Employment Policy Foundation (a Washington, D.C. based research group), compliance with FMLA costs employers more than $21 billion in lost productivity, continued health benefits, and labor replacement. However, the real risk in FMLA is costly lawsuits against your business.”

Business owners and HR professionals need to stay updated with FMLA changes or they are running the risk of a lawsuit from an employee. This is another topic high on the Federal Reserve’s radar because certain conditions have changed. The Feds are currently watching over businesses who haven’t yet updated their policies to fit these updates.

So, what’s new?

The FMLA Definition of “Spouse” Has Changed

FMLA is a federal statute, thus subject to federal regulations concerning the definition of “spouse”.

Some states do not recognize same sex marriage. FMLA eligible employers in these states previously used their state statute as the definitive position of not extending FMLA benefits to same sex spouses even though they were legally married in another state.

The DOL has updated their definition of “spouse” for FMLA purposes to extend benefits to same sex spouses based on the state where the couple entered into marriage, not where the couple currently resides. The DOL states on their website “This will ensure that the FMLA will give spouses in same-sex marriages the same ability as all spouses to fully exercise their FMLA rights.”

The effective date for the final rule was March 27, 2015.

You can read the Department of Labor’s Fact Sheet on the Final Rule for more information.

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