The DOL’s latest FMLA move has made reviewing your leave policy a must — or you could face penalties. 

As you’ve likely heard, the DOL issued a new General FMLA Notice for employers to hang in their workplaces.

And while the DOL said that using the new version of the notice is optional for those who are already using one that includes the same info, the agency reminded employers of another obligation they have in regards to the notice.

It is to make sure your leave policy includes all of the same info that’s on the General Notice.

In other words, it’s time to audit your FMLA leave policy to make sure it contains all of the same info as the new General FMLA Notice.

Guidance lays out requirement

At the same time the DOL released the new General Notice, it also released a brand new 76-page guide on how employers should go about administering the FMLA — and that guide outlines the need for employer policies to mirror all the info on the General Notice.

The guide’s called “The Employer’s Guide to The Family and Medical Leave Act,” and the poster and policy mandates are spelled out on Page 12 and 13.

The poster requirements

The General Notice — i.e., poster — must be:

  • prominently displayed by all FMLA-covered employers where it can be easily seen by employees and job applicants
  • displayed even if no employees are FMLA eligible, and
  • provided to each employee. This can be done via an employee handbook distributed to all employees, guidance distributed to employees explaining benefits or leave rights, or a general notice to all new employees upon hire.

Electronic posting is permitted as long as it meets all the posting requirements otherwise.

If a significant portion of workers are not English-literate, the employer must provide the notice in a language in which those employees are literate.

The policy requirements

If an employer has any FMLA-eligible employees, it must:

  • provide each employee with a general notice about the FMLA in an employee handbook (or other written materials outlining leave and benefits)
  • distribute this general notice to each new employee upon hire if no handbook or written leave/benefits materials exist, and
  • make sure that the info provided includes, at a minimum, all of the information contained the DOL’s FMLA General Notice poster (this includes not only info about employees’ rights and responsibilities, but also the info regarding the employer’s responsibilities).

But if poring over your policy and any type of new language from the updated poster is too much to tackle right now, there is a much simpler solution: The guide says employers can comply with the FMLA notice and policy regs simply by attaching a copy of the new FMLA General Notice poster to their handbook.

The penalties

The guide also reminds employers that those who willfully violate the posting requirement may be assessed a civil money penalty of $110 for each separate offense — and the offenses can add up quickly if you have a large workforce.

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