Recently, the US Department of Labor (DOL) has taken steps to increase its enforcement of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a move that has some employers concerned.
[Related content: Frequently asked questions about FMLA.]
Not waiting to pull the trigger
In the past, FMLA audits were usually initiated after an employee filed a complaint or the agency became aware of a trend in employer violations. Recently, however, the DOL has shifted to a more aggressive approach, one that they say focuses on “systemic” issues of FMLA noncompliance, ones that affect more than one employee or multiple employer location. And they aren’t waiting for a triggering event to launch an audit.
Widening the scope
In addition, the DOL is now widening the scope of its investigations. Where previously FMLA audits focused primarily on the employees who were out on leave at the time of the audit, DOL officials are now also looking back to review employers’ actions with regard to leave taken several years prior to the date of the investigation. Similarly, the DOL is also reviewing policies and procedures regarding FMLA leave across all levels and locations of an organization, not just the where the violation is found to have occurred.
Getting up-close and personal
In the past, it was pretty rare for the DOL to conduct an onsite visit for an FMLA investigation. This is no longer the case. Just as employers should regularly review their polices and practices for compliance, they should also make sure they are prepared for an in-person visit at all times, just in case a DOL investigator knocks on the door unannounced.
The most effective way to prepare for an FMLA audit is to conduct an internal audit of your organization’s policies and practices. Not only will an internal audit reveal any potential compliance gaps that need to be addressed, but it will also prepare your staff on how to respond in the event your company is selected for an FMLA audit by the DOL.
When conducting an internal FMLA audit, you should focus on the following:
[Related content: WEBINAR: Fundamentals Of FMLA.]
As a licensed provider of outsourced human resources solutions, G&A Partners acts as an invaluable resource and ally for businesses caught in the confusing web of regulatory compliance. G&A Partners’ experienced human resources professionals understand the nuances of federal and state labor laws, including the FLSA, and can help companies expertly plan and execute procedural tasks surrounding government compliance. With G&A Partners managing your human resources and related functions, you can rest assured that not only are your employees are afforded the protection of federal laws, but also that your business is protected from the risks of human resources noncompliance.
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This article is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.