The U.S. Department of Labor FMLA Branch Chief Helen Applewhaite recently announced the agencies’ renewed focus on conducting more on-site compliance investigations (“pivotal year for FMLA enforcement”). The DOL’s stated intent is two-fold: (1) to increase its investigators’ access to information; and (2) save time by reviewing the employer’s documents and interviewing employees on-site.
A DOL spokesman mentioned key focal points the agency is most concerned about, a list that includes exactly the type of violations that we frequently see employers having difficulty understanding and complying with. Examples include:
The best advice for employers in light of the DOL’s announcement that they will be increasing on-site investigations is, with the assistance of outside counsel, conduct a comprehensive audit of your company’s FMLA practices and procedures so that you will be ready when the DOL knocks on your door.
The comprehensive audit should include the following:
Additional pieces of advice:
Remember: Conducting an audit and training managers to recognize when absences or leave requests have FMLA implications is the best advice for employers to follow.