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elaws - employment laws assistance for workers and small businesses

- FirstStep Poster Advisor

You have requested information regarding the following Poster(s):

The poster is required under the following law(s):

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) provides a means for employees to balance their work and family responsibilities by taking unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons. The FMLA provides that eligible employees are entitled to:

  • Twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for:
    • the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth; the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
    • to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
    • a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of his or her job; and
    • any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty;” and
  • Twenty-six workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the employee is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of the servicemember (Military Caregiver Leave).

The FMLA also requires that the employee's group health insurance coverage be maintained under the same terms and conditions during the leave as if the employee had not taken leave.

The Wage and Hour Division administers and enforces the FMLA for all private, state and local government employees, and some Federal employees. Most Federal and certain congressional employees are also covered by the law and are subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management or the Congress.

Poster Requirements

Poster.  All covered employers are required to display and keep on display a poster explaining the provisions of the FMLA and telling employees how to file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of violations of the Act. The poster must be displayed prominently where employees and applicants for employment can see it .The poster and all the text must be large enough to be easily read and contain fully legible text.  Covered employers must display the poster even if no employees are eligible for FMLA leave.  

Where the employer’s workforce is comprised of a significant portion of workers who are not literate in English, the employer is required to provide the notice in a language in which the employees are literate.  To meet the posting requirements, employers may use the prototype poster prepared by the Department or may use another format so long as the information provided includes, at a minimum, all of the information contained in that notice.  Electronic posting is permitted as long as it meets all of the posting requirements.

The Department’s FMLA prototype poster is available in English(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/fmla.htm) and Spanish(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/fmlaspan.htm)

General notice.  If a covered employer has any eligible employees, it must also provide general notice to each employee by including the notice in employee handbooks or other written guidance to employees concerning benefits or leave rights if such written materials exist.  If such written materials do not exist, the employer may accomplish this by distributing a copy of the general notice to each new employee upon hire.  In either case, distribution may be accomplished electronically. 

An employer may duplicate the text of the Poster to meet this general notice requirement, or may use another format so long as the information provided includes, at a minimum, all of the information contained in that notice.  Where an employer’s workforce is comprised of a significant portion of workers who are not literate in English, the employer must provide the general notice in a language in which the employees are literate.

Eligibility notice.  When an employee requests FMLA leave or the employer acquires knowledge that an employee’s leave may be for an FMLA-qualifying reason, the employer must notify the employee of the employee’s eligibility to take FMLA leave within five business days, absent extenuating circumstances. The eligibility notice must state whether the employee is eligible for FMLA leave, and if the employee is not eligible, must state at least one reason why the employee is not eligible.

The Department of Labor makes available a Prototype Eligibility and Rights and Responsibilities Notice(http://www.dol.gov/whd/forms/wh-381.pdf) (Form WH-381), which employers may adapt as appropriate for their use to meet their eligibility and rights and responsibilities (see below) notice requirements.

Rights and Responsibilities notice. Each time the eligibility notice is provided, the employer is also required to provide a written notice detailing the specific expectations and obligations of the employee and explaining any consequences of a failure to meet these obligations. If leave has already begun, the employer should mail the notice to the employee’s address of record. The employer must translate this notice in any situation where it is obligated to translate the general notice into a language in which employees are literate. The written notice must also include information on:

  • Leave may be designated and counted against the employee’s annual FMLA leave entitlement if it qualifies as FMLA leave
  • The applicable 12-month period for the FMLA entitlement
  • Requirements for the employee to furnish certification of a serious health condition, serious injury or illness, or qualifying exigency arising out of active duty or call to active duty status, and the consequences of failing to do so
  • Employee’s right to substitute paid leave, whether the employer will require the substitution of paid leave, the conditions related to any substitution, and the employee’s entitlement to take unpaid FMLA leave if the employee does not meet the conditions for paid leave
  • Requirement for the employee to make any premium payments to maintain health benefits, the arrangements for making such payments, and the possible consequences of the failure to make such payments on a timely basis
  • Employee’s status as a “key employee” and the potential consequence that restoration may be denied following FMLA leave, explaining the conditions required for such denial
  • Employee’s rights to maintenance of benefits during the FMLA leave and to restoration to the same or an equivalent job upon return from leave
  • Employee’s potential liability for payment of health insurance premiums paid by the employer during the employee’s unpaid FMLA leave if the employee fails to return to work after taking FMLA leave

The specific notice may include other information such as whether the employer will require periodic reports of the employee’s status and intent to return to work, but is not required to do so. The notice of rights and responsibilities may be accompanied by any required certification form.

If the specific information provided by the notice changes, the employer must provide written notice referencing the prior notice and setting forth any of the information that has changed. This notice of changes should be provided within five business days of receipt of the employee's first notice of need for leave subsequent to any change.

The Department makes available a Prototype Eligibility and Rights and Responsibilities Notice(http://www.dol.gov/whd/forms/WH-381.pdf) (Form WH-381), which employers may adapt as appropriate for their use to meet their eligibility and rights and responsibilities notice requirements.

Designation notice. The employer is responsible in all circumstances for designating leave as FMLA-qualifying and giving notice of the designation to the employee. When the employer has enough information to determine whether the leave is being taken for an FMLA-qualifying reason, such as after receiving a certification, the employer must notify the employee whether the leave is designated and will count as FMLA leave within five business days, absent extenuating circumstances. Only one designation notice for each FMLA-qualifying reason per applicable 12-month leave year is required. The employer must also notify the employee if it determines that the leave is not FMLA-qualifying and will not be designated as FMLA leave.

If the employer is requiring the employee to submit a fitness-for-duty certification to be restored to his or her job, the employer must provide notice of the requirement with the designation notice. If the employer will require that the fitness-for-duty certification address the employee’s ability to perform the essential functions of the employee’s position, the employer must indicate so in the designation notice and include a list of the essential functions. If the employer handbook or other written documents describing the employer's leave policies clearly provide that a fitness-for-duty certification will be required in specific circumstances, the employer is not required to provide written notice of this requirement, but must provide at least oral notice no later than at the time off the designation notice.

The designation notice must be in writing. The Department of Labor makes available a prototype Designation Notice(http://www.dol.gov/whd/forms/WH-382.pdf) (Form WH-382) for employer’s use. If the leave is not designated as FMLA leave because it does not meet the requirements for FMLA protection, the notice that the leave is not designated FMLA may be in the form of a simple written statement. If the information provided by the employer to the employee in the designation notice changes, the employer must provide written notice of the change within five business days of receipt of the employee’s first notice of need for leave subsequent to the change.

Additionally, the employer must notify the employee of the amount of leave counted against his or her FMLA entitlement. If known at the time the leave is designated, the employer must notify the employee of the number of hours, days, or weeks that will be counted against the employee’s FMLA entitlement. If it is not possible to provide the hours, days, or weeks that will be counted against the entitlement (such as in the case of unforeseeable, intermittent leave), then the employer must provide notice of the amount of leave counted against the FMLA leave entitlement at the request of the employee, but no more often than once in a 30-day period and only if leave was taken in that period. Notice of the amount of leave taken may be oral, but if oral, must be confirmed in writing, generally by no later than the following payday; such written notice may be in any form, including a pay stub notation.

DOL Contacts

Wage and Hour Division(http://www.dol.gov/whd/)
Contact WHD(http://www.dol.gov/whd/contactform.asp)
Tel: 1-866-4USWAGE (1-866-487-9243); TTY: 1-877-889-5627


For questions on other DOL laws, please call DOL's Toll-Free Help Line at 1-866-4-USA-DOL (1-866-487-2365). Live assistance is available in English and Spanish, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Additional service is available in more than 140 languages through a translation service.