Don’t Let Compliance Confusion Create Dissatisfaction

Guest Contributor: Barbara Richman with Brad Federman

We see it over and over again.  Changes occur in the law and employers struggle to comply.  Unfortunately, employers get hit with fines, bad press, lawsuits, and then employee dissatisfaction.  One area of HR is now going through such a change.  Are you ready?  How about your organization?

Employers are faced with daunting compliance challenges as they attempt to administer the complexities of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the changes in the regulations that became effective January 16, 2009, and subsequent changes resulting from the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (NDAA) that was signed into law on October 28, 2009.

The Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) FMLA Toolkit explains that “the FMLA became effective on August 5, 1993 for most employers and entitles eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for specified family and medical reasons. Amendments to the FMLA by the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2008 (NDAA), Public Law 110-181, expanded the FMLA to allow eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave in the applicable 12-month period for any “qualifying exigency” arising out of the fact that a covered military member is on active duty, or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty, in support of a contingency operation. The NDAA also amended the FMLA to allow eligible employees to take up to 26 weeks of job-protected leave in a “single 12-month period” to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness.”

In an article on 10/12/09, “FMLA Amended to Expand Military Family Leave,” SHRM also announced that “President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (H.R. 2647) into law on Oct. 28, expanding the military family leave provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The amendments mandate exigency leave for family members of all covered active duty members and expand the military caregiver provision to family members of certain former service members.”

An additional SHRM article, “FMLA Retaliation Claims on the Rise,” stated that “Retaliation claims under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are the “wave of the future,” said Megan Norris, an attorney with Miller Canfield in Detroit, on Dec. 4, 2009, at the National Employment Law Institute Employment Law Conference in Washington, D.C. An employee doesn’t have to be right about an underlying FMLA allegation to proceed on an FMLA retaliation claim, Norris reminded, noting that many courts let retaliation claims proceed even after they have rejected underlying FMLA claims.”

Barbara Richman, SPHR, is a Senior Consultant with HR Mpact, a human resource consulting firm located in Memphis, Tennessee. As a consultant, Barbara has worked on varied projects and provided training for a broad range of organizations in both the public and private sectors. She has been a speaker at meetings and conferences of business and professional organizations and has been a contributor to a number of local and national publications, including the Memphis Business Journal, Employment and Labor Update, Contractors Business Management Report, and The Human Resource Magazine.  Barbara is also the author of the ADMINISTERING THE FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT (FMLA) MANUAL.  For more information on the FMLA or the FMLA manual leave a comment below or contact Barbara at info@hr-mpact.com.

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