The FMLA forms expired; now what?

Posted June 7, 2018

It happens every three years. The date on the FMLA forms and notices provided by the Department of Labor (DOL) expires. The forms had an expiration date of 5/31/18, which was extended to 6/30/18 for most of them. What does it all mean? Are those dated 5/31/18 no longer useable?

No need for concern. The expiration date is an internal U.S. government date, in part to try to reduce paperwork. At least every three years, the DOL is required to reassess their information collection needs, make any needed adjustments, and submit an information collection clearance request to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). This includes the FMLA forms. The OMB then reviews the forms to ensure they correctly state the time employers spend responding to the information requests.

The OMB received the FMLA information collection clearance request April 20. The DOL is requesting an extension without change of the currently approved collection, so you will likely not see any changes to the forms. The OMB accepted comments until May 21, after which the OMB needed to review the comments (if any).

Since the OMB did not conclude its review of the collection before the expiration date listed on the forms, it automatically extended, and will continue to extend, the expiration date on a month-to month basis until it does conclude the review and provides the new three-year expiration date.

According to the DOL, the expiration dates on the forms are certainly helpful, but OMB goes by the expiration of the collection. The current forms (or instruments as OMB calls them) are valid as long as the underlying collection is valid. Therefore, despite the expiration date, the forms will still be viable, even after 6/30/18 (or 5/31/18).

You are not mandated to use the DOL’s forms at all, but may use others, as long as they basically contain the same information. This information, however, does not necessarily need to include the OMB expiration date. Mostly, they want to ensure you don’t ask for more information than the law and regulations allow. If you use your own forms or ones that auto-filled in an online tracking tool, the end result likely will not have an expiration date. This does not mean that the forms are not compliant; they are.

Therefore, until the OMB finishes their review and you see an expiration date for some time in 2021, you may continue to use the forms with the 5/31/18 (or 6/31/18) date if you wish. Doing so will likely not bring the DOL to your door.

This article was written by Darlene M. Clabault, SHRM-CP, PHR, CLMS, of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.


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