FMLA for Managers

FMLA:  6 Things Every Manager Should Know

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers provide eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave in a rolling 12-month period.  To be eligible the employee must satisfy a service and hours requirement of 12 months and at least 1,250 hours. 

Maine FML provides 10 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave and although the 12-month service requirement applies, the employee does not need to meet the hours requirement.  For this reason, casual non-benefits eligible employees can become eligible through Maine FML provisions. 

The Maine Family Care Act provides all benefits eligible employees up to 40 hours each calendar year of job-protected leave to care for an ill spouse/partner, child or parent.   

The most generous provision available to the employee is applied.

  1. Understanding the Obligations

College policy asks you to notify Human Resources after an employee has missed 3 consecutive days of work or if you anticipate up front that they will miss 3 consecutive days.  With that said, anytime that you become aware that a potential FMLA situation may exist (even if the employee does not specifically identify the need as such), you should notify HR.  FMLA requires that certain communications and notices be provided to the employee within five days of HR or the manager receiving the request or inquiry.  For this reason, timely notification to HR is one of your most important obligations as managers.  Once approved by HR, managers working with their employees must also track and record through Workday “all” FMLA time used, regardless of the availability of paid time off and other types of paid leave.  Health information must be kept confidential, including any diagnosis or other medical information relating to the condition of the employee or the employee’s family member.  For this reason, HR is responsible for obtaining, reviewing, and storing any medical information related to the request.  Medical information should never be directed to or retained in individual departments.

  1. When and How to Initiate the Process

When one of your employees has requested leave or is absent from work (full-time or intermittently) for a reason that “may” be covered by FMLA you must notify HR.  It is important to note that employees may not specifically ask or know to ask for FMLA.  When in doubt contact HR!  Employees can take leave for several reasons:

  • Incapacity due to pregnancy, prenatal medical care or childbirth. To care for the employee’s child after birth, or placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care.
  • To care for the employee’s spouse/partner, son or daughter, or parent, who has a serious health condition.
  • For a serious physical or mental health condition that makes the employee unable to perform their job either intermittently or full-time.
  • Military families are entitled to FMLA for additional reasons, including up to 12 weeks before or following the impending deployment of an immediate family member overseas. Those caring for an injured or seriously ill military family member are entitled to 16 weeks of FMLA leave.
  1. Leave Obligations don’t necessarily end with FMLA

The College has generous Absence Management policies.  For example, eligible employees may remain on a medical absence for a period of up to 6 months in most situations through Short Term Disability.  The 12 weeks of FMLA leave does not necessarily end an employer’s obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to provide leave.  When all leave options (paid and unpaid) have been exhausted, the College must engage the employee in an interactive process and make reasonable accommodation that will not impose “undue hardship”.  Part of that accommodation may be to provide additional leave when FMLA and all other options are exhausted.  HR, working with you and the employee, is responsible for this process.

  1. Avoid Retaliation

Employees may not be penalized for requesting and taking FMLA-covered leave.  Protected absences cannot be held against the employee in any way.  In thinking about advancements, training opportunities or pay increases, assume employees on leave had perfect attendance and performance during any period of covered leave time.  This doesn’t mean, however, that employees are not responsible for following call-in procedures and advance notice when possible.  An employee taking job-protected leave can, and should, be held accountable for job performance requirements and policies/procedures.  Talk to the employee taking intermittent leave to ensure call-in procedures are clear.  If the employee with FMLA calls out and does not identify the reason for the absence, you should ask them if the absence should be designated as FMLA.

  1. Track and Manage Absences

While an employee is on full-time approved leave, HR manages/administers the leave and enters/approves the FMLA time in Workday along with any paid options running concurrently with FMLA.  For an employee on intermittent FMLA the manager must track and report the leave in Workday.  This is a very important requirement.  When you have an employee on intermittent FMLA, you receive a copy of the letter confirming the designation to the employee with instructions on entering the time along with any paid time types running concurrently with FMLA.  Even if the employee enters their own time in Workday for your approval, they must still follow the call-in procedures on the date the leave is taken to notify you of their FMLA absences.  Paid options run concurrently with FMLA and must be exhausted before FMLA becomes unpaid time in most situations.

  1. Workers’ Compensation and FMLA

Workers’ Compensation is a state-mandated insurance program that covers medical treatment for work related injuries or illness and lost wages if an employee is unable to work. To be compensable, it must have been the result of an accident arising out of and in the course of the worker’s employment.  Bowdoin College has workers’ compensation insurance with Maine Employers’ Mutual Insurance Company (MEMIC).  If a physician puts an employee out of work due to a workplace injury, the employee is eligible for FMLA leave with the same requirements needing to be met as for a non-work related illness or injury.

An employee who is hurt or injured in the course of their duties, must notify their supervisor immediately (no later than 30 days).  Failure to give notice with 30 days can prevent the employee from receiving benefits.  Supervisors should assess the situation to determine if the employee needs immediate medical attention and follow-up care.  You are responsible for notifying HR and completing the Accident/Incident Report Form for Supervisor report.  Document how and why the injury happened by talking with your injured worker and all who witnessed the accident.  Immediately institute necessary precautions.  HR will work with you, your employee and MEMIC.  Open communication and cooperation among all parties involved are the key elements to achieving the best results for recovery.


To report a potential FMLA/ADA request or for questions about time tracking, time entry and the status of employees on leave, please contact:  Mary Cote, Senior Associate Director for Benefits and Absence Management, Human Resources, or by calling (207) 725-3033.

To report a workplace accident/injury or a potential work-related medical condition or for questions about Workers Compensation, please contact:  Kristin Steinman, Workers’ Compensation & Wellness Administrator, Human Resources, or by calling (207) 725-3688.