The U.S. Department of Labor's Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) went into effect in 1993, but you still have to create your own leave policyby filling in the details the law has left to each company's discretion. To avoid inconsistencies, misunderstandings, and nasty telephone calls from theDepartment of Labor, any company with 50 or more employees should consider the following -- before any employee requests a leave:

  • Under FMLA, companies may require employees to use accrued paid time off as part of the 12-week entitlement. Decide up front if that's what you're goingto do, and make sure employees know it.
  • Create a clearinghouse for FMLA paperwork, and make sure all supervisors know the procedure for leave requests.
  • As an employer, you may require medical certification to support a request for leave because of a serious health condition. One caveat: if you ask oneemployee for proof of serious illness, you must ask all.
  • You must continue health coverage for employees on leave, but you may ask them to cover their share of the premiums. If you do, establish a collectionprocess.

For more information, contact the Department of Labor, Employment Standards Administration, by fax, at 202-219-8740.