When the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was passed back in 1993, it was hailed as an important step forward for the United States – one of the few developed countries in the world that doesn’t have a broad national paid leave policy. While there are many apps available today for monitoring employee leave time that can serve as FMLA tracking software, knowing some of the finer points of the regulations is important in order to make the best use of any software tool.
FMLA Tracking Software Doesn’t Know the Law
While the FMLA tracking software your company uses allows you to monitor and manage various kinds of leave time, it can’t tell you whether you’re in compliance with the law when granting a leave request. One example of the challenge has to do with key employees. When faced with an FMLA leave request from a highly-paid executive, your company may be nervous about the impact such a leave could have on the company.
FMLA regulations do include a key employee exception, but it’s important to understand that meeting the standard for this exception is quite high, meaning that in most cases your company will likely have to honor the leave request, which also means restoring the employee to their position at the end of the leave. The law defines a key employee as one who is “a salaried FMLA-eligible employee who is among the highest paid 10 percent of all the employees employed by the employer within 75 miles of the employee’s worksite” and whose restoration to employment would cause “substantial and grievous economic injury” to the company’s operations. Notice that it’s not the absence of the key employee that’s the main issue here, but rather the hardship involved in temporarily replacing the employee or doing without the employee and then restoring the employee. If the employee is eligible for FMLA leave, then the leave request cannot be denied, but reinstatement may be denied if the key employee exception is met.
There is also a case moving through the courts where an employer encouraged an employee to take FMLA leave for a needed surgery before she was eligible for FMLA leave, which doesn’t kick in until after a year of employment. The employer assured her as well that her position would be held for her, so she scheduled her surgery for a date before her one-year mark. The employer then informed her she was not eligible for FMLA leave and filled her position. This case hasn’t been decided yet, but the judge is definitely considering the fact that the employer made assurances to the employee that might make her FMLA claim legitimate.
FMLA Tax Credit Benefit and FMLA Tracking Software
An employer who grants FMLA leave is not required to pay the employee during that leave. It’s more about restoring the employee to their position at the end of the leave. But many employers are willing to make it paid leave, or at least coordinate the FMLA leave with other paid leave benefits so the employee has at least some income during the leave. Companies can receive a tax credit for wages paid during FMLA leave for certain employees, namely those who earn less than $72,000 in a year. This tax credit is available for FMLA leave wages paid in 2018 and 2019 but then the credit expires at the end of 2019. To qualify for the credit, the company must pay at least two weeks of wages that are at least 50% of the employees’ normal wages. Employers who wish to take advantage of this temporary tax credit will need the right FMLA tracking software to make sure they have the numbers right around meeting the paid leave requirements.
FMLA Tracking Software Can’t Prevent Leave Abuse
Two years ago, the 911 call center in Chicago had reached a critical point where nearly half (49%) of all employees were on some kind of leave tied to FMLA, which in turn resulted in other employees working crazy amounts of overtime to cover shifts. At the root of the problem were employees abusing the FMLA leave policies. The key to getting the situation under control was extensive training for managers on the details of FMLA, including what questions can and cannot be asked of employees requesting FMLA leave. The trend that was noticed involved employees making many short-term leave requests, often for Fridays and Saturdays or around major holidays and other social events. More aggressive review of FMLA requests has resulted in a dramatic drop in FMLA leave hours.
If it’s time for your company to find the right FMLA tracking software, we invite you to take a closer look at CaptureLeave, an affordable web-based SaaS (software as a service) app that is simple to use but surprisingly powerful in its capabilities. Sign up to try CaptureLeave for free for 60 days to find out what it can do for your company.