By Joel M. Nolan
Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor released a user-friendly Employees' Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act. The guide is targeted at employees, but may also serve as a helpful tool for employers looking for an efficient summary of the law.
The guide does not provide new information or legal interpretations of the law; rather, it provides a plain-language overview of the FMLA's major provisions and contours, such as FMLA eligibility, FMLA rights and protections, the process for requesting leave (and associated notice provisions), FMLA certifications, and job reinstatement. In addition, the guide highlights certain unique circumstances and incorporates some of the DOL's interpretive guidance on particular issues. For example, the guide discusses eligibility guidelines for airline flight attendants and flight crew employees, describes when employees may be eligible to take FMLA leave to care for certain children with whom the employee has no legal relationship (or to care for another as such a child), and emphasizes the importance of employer FMLA policies. Further, the guide provides clear flowcharts regarding FMLA eligibility and certification and the process for taking FMLA leave, as well as information for employees on filing an FMLA complaint with the DOL's wage-and-hour division.
The DOL has also archived a webinar about the guide, which is available here: http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/employeeguide-webinar.htm