What to do when a change occurs after FMLA notice is provided?
Posted December 1, 2015
Victoria was going to take an initial four weeks of leave to bond with her newborn baby. Her husband would then step in and take a few weeks. When she told Amalia, the FMLA administrator, that she was going to take the leave, Amalia promptly provided Victoria with an eligibility/rights and responsibilities notice, indicating that she would be required to use her four weeks of accrued paid time off (PTO) during her initial four weeks of time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
The company allowed employees to take FMLA leave on an intermittent basis for bonding with a healthy child, so about two months after Victoria returned from her four weeks of leave, she requested another six weeks of leave. With this, Amalia wondered how to let Victoria know that she needed to begin providing for her group health insurance premiums, since she no longer had any PTO from which to deduct the premiums. The qualifying reason remained the same.
Providing updated information
When an employee puts you on notice of the need for leave, the FMLA process is generally triggered. This process includes some communication between you and the employee. One of the first pieces of communication is the eligibility/rights and responsibilities notice. You have five days to get this to the employee, once the employee puts you on leave notice.
But what happens if, after you provide this notice, the information indicated in it changes?
In Amaila’s situation, she would benefit from a quick read of the applicable regulations:
“If the specific information provided by the notice of rights and responsibilities changes, the employer shall, within five business days of receipt of the employee’s first notice of need for leave subsequent to any change, provide written notice referencing the prior notice and setting forth any of the information in the notice of rights and responsibilities that has changed. For example, if the initial leave period was paid leave and the subsequent leave period would be unpaid leave, the employer may need to give notice of the arrangements for making premium payments.” 29 CFR 825.300(c)(4)
Therefore, Amalia should send Victoria a new rights and responsibilities notice, or other notice with new information on how to handle the premium payments.
The same could be said about the designation notice. If the information changes (e.g., the employee exhausts the FMLA leave entitlement), you would provide, within five business days of receipt of the employee’s first notice of need for leave subsequent to any change, written notice of the change.
Simply providing these initial notices might not be enough. If things change, you might need to add to the communication you already provide an employee in regard to FMLA leave.
J. J. Keller's FMLA Essentials Manual uses clear, conversational language to help you understand the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) requirements.
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