- The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) released July 16 optional-use forms for employers coordinating Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave. Employers do not need to use these forms, as the information they collect can be reported in any format, WHD specified.
- The update makes the forms "simpler and easier for employees, employers, leave administrators and healthcare providers to understand and use," the agency said. Among the updated forms are those used for eligibility, rights and responsibilities and designation notices, in addition to leave certification forms. They feature options for electronic signatures and more questions that can be answered with a checked box, according to a press release. These changes will save users time and, ultimately, "reduce the likelihood of violations," WHD said.
- The agency also announced a request for information asking for employer and employee feedback on the implementation of the FMLA. Comments will close Sept. 15, 2020.
WHD's roll out comes after the department asked for comments on proposed revisions to the forms last August. The updates bring few substantial changes, according to Littler Mendelson Shareholder Jeff Nowak. "These new model documents tend to tweak the old forms around the edges, and as a result, they're more likely to elicit a shrug of the shoulders than a high five," he wrote in a blog post.
The FMLA process is a burden, say many HR professionals. During a January 2019 Disability Management Employer Coalition webinar, 47% of attendees said they find the build up of FMLA tasks the most challenging aspect of administering the leave. If the new forms are simpler and easier as WHD indicates, employers may find some relief.
Outside of the forms themselves, FMLA administrators can take several steps to improve their use of FMLA forms, presenters at the DMEC webinar said. HR practitioners can, among other things, ensure their timelines sync with those imposed by WHD. Employers must provide employees with a notice of their FMLA eligibility within five days of receiving a leave request, for instance.