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FMLA and FLSA Compliance: A Guide for Florida Employers

If you are a Florida employer, you must be compliant with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  These federal laws provide important protection for employees regarding leave and wage-related matters.  In this article, we will provide an overview of FMLA and FLSA compliance and why Florida employers need to remain up-to-date and informed.

 Understanding FMLA and FLSA Regulations

Under FMLA, employees are eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for specific family and medical reasons, such as the birth or adoption of a child, caring for a family member with a serious health condition; or dealing with the employee’s serious health conditions.  Florida employers covered by FMLA must adhere to its provisions, which include providing eligible employees with FMLA leave upon request, as well as maintaining their health benefits during the leave period.  The employer must also ensure that the employee’s position, or an equivalent position, is available upon their return. 

FLSA sets minimum wage, overtime pay, record-keeping; and youth employment standards for covered employees in the private sector and federal, state, and local governments.  FLSA also regulates child labor laws and makes sure that minors are not employed in hazardous occupations and that they are paid at least the federal minimum wage. 

Employee Eligibility and Qualifications

To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must work for a covered employer for at least 12 months (not necessarily consecutive) before the start of leave and have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately before the start of FMLA leave.  The employee must also work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius. 

FLSA doesn’t provide eligibility in the same way as FMLA does.  FSLA applies to most employees in the U.S., although certain exemptions may apply to specific types of employees, like executive, administrative, professional, outside sales, and certain computer employees who might be exempt from minimum wage and overtime requirements. 

Required Documentation and Record-Keeping

Employers covered by FMLA are required to post a notice explaining the provisions of the FMLA and provide information about employee’s rights and responsibilities under the law.  When an employee requests FMLA, employers are required to provide written notice detailing the employee’s eligibility for FMLA leave and their rights and responsibilities under FMLA within five business days.  The employer must also designate the leave as FMLA-qualifying and inform the employee of the amount of leave counted against their FMLA entitlement.

An employer is within their right to ask the employee to provide certification from a healthcare provider to support their need for FMLA leave if it is due to a serious health condition of the employee or a family member.  Employers covered by FMLA must maintain records of employee leave taken under FMLA, including dates of leave, the purpose of the leave, as well as any certifications provided and any documentation related to the employee’s return to work.

Employers covered by FLSA must maintain records with basic employment information for all covered employees, including employees’ full names, birth dates, occupations, dates of employment, regular pay rate, and hours worked each day and each work week. 

Employers covered by FLSA must also keep accurate payroll records, time and attendance records, and child labor laws.

Common Compliance Pitfalls to Avoid

A common pitfall for employers is failing to recognize when an employee’s leave request qualifies for FMLA protection.  Another mistake many employers make is failure to provide adequate notice or communicate effectively with employees about FMLA leave.  Employers must also apply FMLA policies consistently to all employees to avoid claims of discrimination or retaliation

With FLSA, misclassifying employees as exempt from FLSA overtime requirements when they do not meet the criteria for exemption is a common pitfall.  Other mistakes include off-the-clock work, failure to pay for all hours worked, and miscalculating overtime pay, as well as, inadequate record-keeping.

Navigating Leave and Pay Requirements

Employers should invest in thorough training for managers and HR personnel who are responsible for administering FMLA and FLSA policies.  Regular audits of policies and practices can help identify and address potential compliance issues.  Seeking guidance from legal counsel specializing in employment law can also help ensure compliance with FMLA and FLSA regulations.

That’s where I come in.  I’m Rob Robinson, and I have spent more than 30 years practicing labor and employment law for both private and public employers in Florida.  It is crucial to understand and comply with both FMLA and FLSA regulations to avoid legal liabilities and potential and possible reputational damage.  I can help you implement policies and procedures that align with these laws.  I can also educate management about employee rights and employer obligations and advise employers about updates or changes to federal and state labor laws.

Please contact my office at once if you need legal help with any type of labor issue.

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