What do recent DOL opinions on FMLA mean for intermittent leave and holidays?

In the realm of employment law, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) stands as a cornerstone, providing employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid and job-protected leave for qualifying family and medical reasons. While the FMLA is undeniably beneficial to countless workers, its complex regulations often pose challenges for both employees and employers. The Achilles Group recognizes the intricacies involved in compliance with FMLA regulations and aims to shed light on recent U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) opinion letters addressing two critical issues: the use of intermittent leave for reduced work hours and the impact of holidays on FMLA calculations.

Intermittent Leave for Reduced Work Hours:

In a pivotal opinion letter dated February 9, 2023, the DOL addressed a query regarding the use of intermittent leave to indefinitely reduce an employee’s workday. The case involved an employee with a chronic medical issue preventing them from working the full 10-hour shifts required by their position. The DOL’s response clarified that the employee could indeed utilize FMLA leave intermittently to work a reduced number of hours per day or week. Moreover, the DOL emphasized that this intermittent leave could persist until fully exhausted. This conclusion implies that, in cases where FMLA leave remains unused, an employee may continue working on a reduced schedule indefinitely without jeopardizing their FMLA rights.

Holiday Impact on FMLA Leave Calculation:

In a subsequent opinion letter issued on May 30, 2023, the DOL addressed the often-misunderstood relationship between holidays and FMLA leave. The inquiry sought clarification on whether and how holidays impact FMLA leave calculations. The DOL reaffirmed its longstanding rule, stating that holidays do not affect FMLA calculations if the employee was on FMLA leave for the entire week. However, when a holiday coincides with a week where the employee took less than a full workweek of FMLA leave, the holiday is not considered FMLA leave. The DOL emphasized that in such instances, the calculation should involve dividing the amount of FMLA leave taken (excluding the holiday) by the total workweek (including the holiday).

The Complexity of FMLA Regulations:

The Achilles Group recognizes that FMLA regulations are intricate and demand nuanced analysis, especially from employers and managers. These recent DOL opinion letters underscore the necessity for businesses to stay abreast of evolving regulatory opinions, no matter the complexity. Remaining in compliance with the FMLA requires proactive efforts to understand and implement these nuanced interpretations to ensure the well-being of both employees and the organization.

As the landscape of employment law continues to evolve, the Achilles Group remains committed to providing valuable insights into complex issues such as FMLA compliance. The recent DOL opinion letters offer clarity on intermittent leave and holiday impact, reinforcing the importance of a thorough understanding of FMLA regulations. By staying informed and adapting to these regulatory nuances, employers can navigate FMLA complexities effectively, fostering a workplace environment that prioritizes both legal compliance and the well-being of its workforce.

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