THE U.S. Department of Labor recently revised the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, so make sure your company's policy -- yes, you should have one -- complies. (See Managing People, January, [Article link].) State requirements vary, but federal regulations clearly define "serious health condition" and "continuing regimens of treatment" for chronic conditions and stipulate the following:
1. Clinical social workers and any health-care provider recognized by the employer (or its group health plan) may now certify FMLA claims.
2. Under certain circumstances, employers and employees may claim FMLA leave retroactively, within two business days of the employee's return to work.
3. Employers must give written notice of their specific FMLA requirements only the first time an employee takes leave within a six-month period. Furthermore, you need to give employees written notice each time you require a medical-certification or a "fitness for duty" report, unless you state that requirement clearly in your six-month notice and company handbook.
4. If an employee voluntarily accepts a light-duty assignment instead of continuing FMLA leave, his or her right to return to the original or an equivalent job continues for 12 weeks, including the FMLA leave taken.
5. Leave taken under a disability or workers' compensation plan may now be credited against FMLA leave entitlement, and accrued paid leave may not be substituted while the employee is receiving those benefits. -- Robina A. Gangemi* * *