Don’t Become the Latest DOL Press Release: On-Site FMLA Investigations
The new Department of Labor FMLA Branch Chief is calling 2014 a “pivotal” year for FMLA enforcement through a renewed focus on conducting compliance investigations with an emphasis in on-site FMLA visits. Going forward, the DOL has the authority to come on-site whenever it deems appropriate. The DOL states that the standard request for information will be over a two-year period, and that the agency’s focus is to bring employers into compliance with the law and remedy any FMLA violations. These investigations have resulted in an increased number of unprepared companies that are paying costly settlements and fines for not being FMLA compliant.
Employers Be Aware:
- The new FMLA Branch Chief signaled that employers should be prepared for the DOL to come on site far more often in the future for an FMLA investigation. With hundreds of new people added to the FMLA enforcement team, 2014 is gearing up to be the biggest year for FMLA audits.
- Anyone who will be involved in handling leave requests must understand all FMLA procedures and know how to properly handle the recording of each event. Employee interviews and reviewing of previous FMLA events will become standard practice in an on-site visit. The DOL wants to ensure all your supervisors and employees in the leave process are familiar with your FMLA policy.
- The DOL will give particular attention to intermittent leave, which are areas within your organization where leaves of absence tend to be more frequent. There is a greater chance in these areas that the employer has not recognized the absence as an FMLA event, and therefore has not complied with FMLA notice and/or certification requirements.
- The DOL investigators will have the authority to perform a broad company record review with requests for information that cover multiple years and locations. The DOL will review all FMLA records and relevant document’s to ensure the employee was covered under FMLA and all paperwork was filled correctly and on time. A record review can go as far back as two year period. If an FMLA event were to be found non-complaint, a deeper look into the company’s records would occur. Thus, a FMLA audit could spawn a wage and hour, I-9, and worker’s compensation audit.
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