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IMA Human Resources Blog

The DOL Is Stepping Up FMLA Enforcement

From the G&A Partners blog …

Recently, the US Department of Labor (DOL) has taken steps to increase its enforcement of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a move that has some employers concerned.

[Check out our post answering employers’ most frequently asked questions about FMLA.]

What do employers need to know?

Not waiting to pull the trigger

In the past, FMLA audits were usually initiated after an employee filed a complaint or the agency became aware of a trend in employer violations. Recently, however, the DOL has shifted to a more aggressive approach, one that they say focuses on “systemic” issues of FMLA noncompliance, ones that affect more than one employee or multiple employer location. And they aren’t waiting for a triggering event to launch an audit.

Widening the scope

In addition, the DOL is now widening the scope of its investigations. Where previously FMLA audits focused primarily on the employees who were out on leave at the time of the audit, DOL officials are now also looking back to review employers’ actions with regard to leave taken several years prior to the date of the investigation. Similarly, the DOL is also reviewing policies and procedures regarding FMLA leave across all levels and locations of an organization, not just the where the violation is found to have occurred.

Getting up-close and personal

In the past, it was pretty rare for the DOL to conduct an onsite visit for an FMLA investigation. This is no longer the case. Just as employers should regularly review their polices and practices for compliance, they should also make sure they are prepared for an in-person visit at all times, just in case a DOL investigator knocks on the door unannounced.

The best defense is a good offenseŠ

The most effective way to prepare for an FMLA audit is to conduct an internal audit of your organization’s policies and practices. Not only will an internal audit reveal any potential compliance gaps that need to be addressed, but it will also prepare your staff on how to respond in the event your company is selected for an FMLA audit by the DOL.

When conducting an internal FMLA audit, you should focus on the following:

• Leave policies

• Compliance with notice and worksite posting requirements

• Record-keeping practices

For a more in-depth overview of the Family Medical Leave Act, check out the recap of our “Fundamentals of FMLA” webinar, hosted by one of G&A Partners’ human resources experts in December 2015.

Source: G&A Partners