Questions & Answers:
Can you take FMLA to care for a family member who resides outside the US?
Yes. Where they reside doesn’t matter as long as the employee qualifies for FMLA and the family member is a covered family member under FMLA.
Can you expand upon “covered” family members? Who qualifies?
Under federal FMLA only parents, siblings, children and spouses are covered. In California this extends to grandparents and in-laws.
Can an employer reduce or pro-rate a merit increase and/or attendance payment for employees who are out beyond the protected 12-week FMLA leave?
Technically yes, but do so cautiously. Remember you have to be consistent: do it for every employee exactly the same way.
Can the employer require an employee to pay the company back for the portion of health coverage that exceeds the 12 week FMLA allotment?
At the end of the 12 weeks, you can issue a COBRA notice to the employee. You are not required to cover them for that extended time. Make sure to submit the notice using the “Reduction of Hours” option and not the “Termination” option. Make sure your policy is consistent for all employees.
Inside the 12 weeks, you are also technically allowed to charge the employee their typical health coverage premium (if your company doesn’t pay 100% of benefits). However it is recommended that you cover them in full during this time lest their coverage lapse during FMLA. You can handle repayment of that policy once they return to work.
Does an employee continue to accrue time off while on leave?
No. They would start accruing time off immediately upon returning to work.
If an employee requests FMLA without a doctor’s note, can they (and should the employer) still submit the form?
No, however in order to complete an FMLA notice, the employee must complete a section on Doctor’s Certification within five days.
I have locations in California and New York. Do they use the same forms?
Yes. For FMLA ONLY. FMLA is federal.
How many times is an employer required to extend FMLA based on doctor’s certifications before they can deny it?
You can’t. If the employee has a doctor’s note, you cannot deny an extension to a leave of absence. There’s no need to fire an employee either, as you are simply holding their name on your payroll. You’re not required to hold their position for them.
I work in San Diego, and have a handful of employees who use medical services in Mexico. Would that be covered?
Anything that’s voluntary is not covered anyway under FMLA. In general however, granting FMLA for medical work done outside the US is not necessarily an extra burden on the employer.