This week, the Department of Labor announced that it soon will issue a new general FMLA Notice that can be used interchangeably with their current FMLA posting.  In issuing this new directive, the agency also unveiled a new guide to help employers navigate and administer the FMLA.

Here’s the scoop:

New DOL Poster

Under the FMLA, an FMLA-covered employer must post a copy of the General FMLA Notice in each location where it has any employees (even if there are no FMLA-eligible employees at that location). According to the FMLA rules, the notice must be posted “prominently where it can be readily seen by employees and applicants for employment.”

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The DOL has announced that it will release a new General FMLA Notice for employers to post its workplaces.  According to the DOL, the new poster won’t necessarily include a whole bunch of new information.  Rather, the information in the notice will be reorganized so that it’s more reader friendly.

After today’s announcement, I had the opportunity to connect with the DOL’s Branch Chief for FMLA, Helen Applewhaite, about the timing and obligations to post the new General FMLA Notice.  She confirmed that employers would be allowed to post either the current poster or the new version.  In other words, employers will not be required to change the current poster.  For those that want to use the new poster, you can access it here.

New Employer FMLA Guide

In 2012, the DOL issued a guide to employees to help them navigate their rights under the FMLA.  Several years later, DOL now has issued a companion guide for employers.  According to the DOL, the Employer’s Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act (pdf) is designed to “provide essential information about the FMLA, including information about employers’ obligations under the law and the options available to employers in administering leave under the FMLA.”

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The new guide was unveiled by Ms. Applewhaite at an annual FMLA/ADA Compliance conference sponsored by the Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC). Generally speaking, the new guide covers FMLA administration from beginning to end, and it follows a typical leave process — from leave request through medical certification and return to work.

As for the Guide itself, my initial take is that it will be a decent resource for the employer community. I also appreciate the fact that the DOL asked me and a couple of other leaders on the employer side in the FMLA space to offer constructive feedback before the guide was released. At the time, I encouraged the agency to tackle in its guide some difficult FMLA administration issues that employers grapple with, feedback of which did not make its way into the DOL’s final draft (nor did I expect it, I suppose!).

While the guide helps explain the FMLA regulations in a user-friendly manner, the Guide primarily is meant to answer common questions about the FMLA, so it leaves unanswered leave issues that continue to frustrate employers in their administration of the FMLA.  However, the Guide is likely to have somebenefit to employers when administering the FMLA.  For instance, the Guide:

  1. Follows the FMLA regulations and the course of a typical leave request in a relative orderly manner.
  2. Contains easy to follow flowcharts so that employers can better understand the typical FMLA process, including a cute little “Road Map to the FMLA” [yes, I think I just called the DOL “cute”] that provides an overview of the FMLA process.  You’ll even find some interactive cartoons along the way to further explain the regulations.
  3. Includes “Did You Know?” sections to give employers a heads-up on some of the lesser-known provisions and nuances of the FMLA regulations.
  4. Highlights user-friendly charts and explanation of the medical certification process, including what information is required in certifications.
  5. Provides a helpful overview of military family leave, which often can be a bit overwhelming to employers attempting to navigate this portion of the FMLA.