What Is Michigan FMLA?

The FMLA in Michigan helps employees take time off for specific reasons. Any employee in Michigan has the right to take time off from work under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Employers across the country, including those in Michigan, must follow FMLA regulations that allow an eligible worker to take unpaid leave, with reinstatement rights, for specific reasons. Many states have state-specific laws that make employers allow time off for family and medical reasons; Michigan workers only have the rights set forth in the FMLA.

The law makes sure benefits continue and allows for enforcement when companies don't comply. Companies have to keep employee health coverage under the group plan. When a worker returns to work, the employer must return him to his original job or a similar/equivalent job. Employers may not restrict, deny, or interfere with an employee exercising FMLA rights. Employers cannot discharge or discriminate against a worker involved in any procedures related to FMLA or for opposition to prohibited actions by FMLA. These laws apply to private and public employers, including all federal, state, county, and local agencies, including educational systems.

Who Is Covered Under FMLA in Michigan?

Michigan companies must adhere to FMLA if they employ at least 50 workers for 20 weeks during the last year or previous year. Michigan workers can take FMLA leave if they've worked for a company for a year. Michigan workers must have worked 1,250 hours over the last year. Michigan employees can also benefit from FMLA if the company they work for has 50 employees at multiple locations, as long as the locations are within a 75-mile radius.

Reasons for FMLA Leave in Michigan

Employees may take time off under FMLA for several reasons. A worker is eligible for FMLA is she is recuperating from a serious health issue. FMLA leave is also available for employees caring for loved ones facing illness, impairment, incapacity, or injury resulting from:

  • Conditions needing inpatient care
  • Pregnancy or prenatal care
  • More than three days of continuous medical care
  • Mental conditions
  • Chronic health issue
  • Terminal illness or injury
  • An extensive operation with treatments or conditions requiring three days care

Workers may take time off under FMLA for a child's birth, if a family member gets called to military duty and the employee must take care of urgent demands, or to care for a loved one who suffered injury during active military service.

How Much FMLA Leave Is Available in Michigan?

Michigan workers have up to 12 weeks FMLA in a 12-month time frame for health conditions, new babies, or other circumstances. These weeks renew every year as long as the worker meets eligibility requirements.

Workers can take up to 26 weeks in 12 months to care for an injured family member who was hurt during active military service. They may also have up to 26 weeks in a 12-month time frame to care for loved ones hurt during active military service as a per-injury, per-service member right. Employees cannot take another leave if the same loved one is hurt again, or another loved one gets hurt during active service.

What Are Your FMLA Leave and Reinstatement Rights in Michigan?

Workers have the right to keep health insurance while on FMLA leave at the same price they paid while working. Since FMLA leave is not paid leave, workers can use (or may be forced to use) any accumulated paid time off during FMLA leave. When the FMLA leave ends, workers have the right of reinstatement to their original position or one equal to it with a few exceptions.

Required Notice for FMLA Leave in Michigan

Any worker who believes she needs FMLA leave should alert her manager and human resources department immediately. Get a copy of the company's FMLA policy, which will list what paperwork needs to be completed. In Michigan, FMLA imposes notice and paperwork restrictions on employees and businesses, so it's imperative to file for leave as soon as possible.

Things to Remember Regarding FMLA in Michigan

Any Michigan employer may not, under state law, discipline, discharge, threaten, or ask for extra work hours from any worker who is summoned or serves jury duty. Companies violating the law commit a crime and can be charged with contempt of court.

Michigan law also forbids companies to discharge, discipline, or threaten any worker who is subpoenaed and asked to appear in court as a victim of a crime or to act as a victim's representative. Employers breaking this law may be jailed for up to 90 days, pay up to $500 in fines, and/or be charged with contempt of court.

Michigan doesn't require companies to pay employees for missed work due to jury duty or court appearances. Private workers must be given leave for active military duty or military training.

Amendments to the Family and Medical Leave Act

Some changes instituted by the DOL were complicated and lengthy covering many areas of the FMLA. Areas changed or modified include:

  • Notice
  • Medical certification
  • Eligibility
  • Paid leave
  • Intermittent leave

The main amendments to the FMLA included the Military Caregiver Leave and Qualified Exigency Leave.

Military Caregiver Leave

Companies should consult with a labor and employment lawyer to make sure that they comply and properly use the changes to FMLA rules.

Under this section of the FMLA, the 12-month time frame begins on the day that a worker starts leave to care for a covered military member. This start date begins at this mark regardless of how a company figures the 12-month time frame for other types of FMLA leave.

Workers may take more than one Military Caregiver Leave, for up to 26 weeks, in a single 12-month time frame for different military service persons or for the same service person with a different injury or sickness.

This caregiver leave is for workers caring for covered military personnel, not for caring for former service members or military veterans on the permanent disability retired list.

Qualified Exigency Leave

Qualified Exigency Leave covers employees for up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave when a spouse, parent, or child is called to active service. This type of FMLA leave restricts workers to 12 weeks in a 12-month time frame. Regular armed forces members called to active duty don't qualify for this leave. Qualified Exigency Leave may be taken intermittently or on a reduced schedule.

The DOL lists eight reasons for qualified exigency leave, including:

  • Short-notice deployment
  • Military events
  • Child care and school activities
  • Financial and legal arrangements
  • Counseling
  • Rest and recuperation
  • Post-deployment activities
  • Additional activities

The last reason is a catch-all for all qualified exigencies that weren't already specified. To start a Qualified Exigency Leave, companies can seek certification of the exigency.  This only applies when a worker asks for this kind of FMLA leave. Workers may be asked for copies of active duty orders as certification. Companies can have workers fill out a new form for this type of leave.

Posted Information Requirements

The DOL requires a posted notice be placed in highly visible areas, where workers and applicants will see it. Companies can post the notice digitally as long as all workers can link to and receive it. Information in the notice must also be put in the employee handbook or given to new hires. Companies can find the notice requirements on the DOL website.

Employer Notice of "Eligibility/Rights and Responsibilities"

When a worker asks for FMLA leave or an employer notices a leave may qualify as FMLA leave, the employer must tell the worker within five days if there aren't any extenuating circumstances.

An eligibility notice must say whether the worker is allowed to take the FMLA leave or not. If the worker is ineligible, the company must give at least one reason why.

Companies must provide workers with written notice of rights and responsibilities under FMLA. They must use the newest form for eligibility notice and rights and responsibilities as outlined in form WH - 381. Employees must show proper medical or exigency certification for leave.

Employer "Designation" Notice

Employers must give workers notice that time off will be under FMLA leave within five business days. Form WH-382 helps employers when giving the designation notice. If a company fails to notify a worker that his time off is FMLA leave within five days, the company can designate the time off as FMLA retroactively if the failure to notice within five days doesn't cause injury or harm to the worker.

Eligibility Determinations

New regulations clarified by the DOL concerning the 12-month time frame indicate that service must be consecutive for a worker to be eligible for FMLA leave. This resolves any dispute over breaks in service regarding a worker's 12-month time frame.

Any employment period before a break in service of seven years or longer cannot be counted in an FMLA leave situation. Now, workers may convert to an FMLA leave after reaching their 12-month anniversaries.

Employee Notice

Employees must notify their companies and human resource departments as soon as possible when asking for a foreseeable FMLA leave, preferably before 30 days prior. When the need for foreseeable leave arises within 30 days of leave start date, workers must report leave the next day.

New rules change a worker's duties regarding notice when he's been approved for FMLA leave before and missed work under the same circumstances. He has to specify the reason for absence is relating to the former FMLA leave or need for FMLA leave. Companies should ask questions to make sure an absence is covered under FMLA.

Workers missing shifts have to give an entire explanation to spark FMLA coverage. Just calling in "sick" doesn't give enough notice of a possible FMLA event.

Treatment of Holidays

If a worker misses an entire week on FMLA leave and a holiday falls in the week, the entire week is counted as FMLA leave. When a worker doesn't miss a full week while on FMLA leave and a holiday falls in the week, the holiday isn't considered part of the FMLA leave unless the worker was supposed to work on the holiday.

Intermittent Leave or Reduced Scheduled Leaves

Companies must figure leave increments using the shortest time frame their payroll systems use to figure absences if it was less than an hour. For FMLA leave, employers cannot use an increment greater than the smallest time frame used for other types of leave, unless it's greater than an hour or that the worker's FMLA entitlement isn't reduced by more than the time actually taken.

Companies are allowed to track a worker's leave in varying time frames or at different times of day and shifts. Workers should make an effort to schedule treatments to keep from unnecessarily interrupting the company's business operations as often as possible.

Employers must use a 12-week average from the previous 12-month time period when calculating intermittent leave. Intermittent leave isn't allowed for some kinds of employment.

Substitution of Paid Leave

A company's paid leave policy determines whether a worker can take paid leave instead of FMLA leave. If a worker is out on disability or workers' compensation, payments usually cover a portion of their regular salary. In this instance, an employee and employer can agree to cover the missing wages with paid leave.

Medical Certification

Requests for medical certification must be made within five days of the request for foreseeable leave. If an employer doesn't ask for certification within five days, the company can ask for it later if there's reasons to doubt the validity of the leave or its length.

Workers have 15 calendar days to turn in medical certification unless it's not feasible given the situation. If a worker doesn't turn in paperwork for foreseeable leave within 15 days without giving any reason, the employer may deny the FMLA leave until the proper paperwork is produced. Companies can deny leave when workers don't produce certification within 15 days for unforeseeable leave until suitable paperwork is produced.

Two certification forms created by the DOL should be available for workers. They are

·        Certification of Health Care Provider for Family Member's Serious Health Condition

Employers must inform workers in writing when these forms are insufficient and give workers time to complete the forms correctly before denying FMLA leave.

Companies are allowed to talk directly with health care professionals solely to verify and clarify a medical certification without asking the worker involved. Several company representatives are authorized to talk to health care personnel, but it cannot be the worker's immediate supervisor. Employers can verify that the medical provider approved the certification and ask the provider to clarify information in the certification. If the condition lasts longer than one year, companies can ask for recertification each year.

Equivalent Position/Payment of Bonuses

There's no listed difference between performance-based or occurrence-based bonuses. Employers can deny bonuses if a worker doesn't meet specific goals like hours present, attendance, or sales because of time missed on leave. Employers must use caution denying bonuses ensuring it's done in a non-discriminating way.

Fitness for Duty Certifications

Companies can ask for more information concerning a worker's ability to come back to work with a fitness for duty certification. Employers may require that a health care professional sign off on a worker's ability to complete specific job duties.

Workers on intermittent leave may have to complete fitness for duty exams every 30 days as long as their employer said so at the time of intermittent leave designation.

Waiver of FMLA Rights

Workers cannot waive or be persuaded by their employer to waive their prospective FMLA rights. They are allowed to waive FMLA rights concerning a settlement or claims release when previous employer conduct is the basis. Neither require DOL approval or court order.

Remedies

When employers interfere with a worker's rights under FMLA, including failing to provide the worker with an FMLA eligibility notice, remedies can be taken. Companies may be held liable for lost wages and benefits caused by the violation. Remedies can include reemployment, settlement, promotion, or anything else crafted to remedy the harm caused by the infraction.

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