9 FMLA record-keeping requirements employers need to know

FMLA leave

When an employee goes on leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), it can pay to double-check that your FMLA record-keeping processes are up to snuff, in case your FMLA administration/processes are ever called into question. 
Employment law attorneys recommend periodic internal audits of all record-keeping practices. That way, if there’s ever a dispute, you’ll be able to produce the required documentation — not to mention stay in compliance with federal laws.
It’s especially important to be on top of your game since, according to the law, the burden of establishing eligibility for FMLA leave is on the employer. And if you fail to keep adequate records, you could find yourself on the losing end of a court battle.
Here’s a rundown of the FMLA’s record-keeping requirements:

  • You can maintain the records as you see fit (i.e., hard copies or electronic records) but they must be capable of being reviewed or copied.
  • The records must contain basic payroll and other data detailing the employee’s compensation.
  • If the employee’s leave amounts to less than a full work day (as happens during intermittent FMLA leave), you’re required to document the number of hours taken.
  • You must maintain copies of any written notices you receive from the employee and copies of all written notices you give to the employee. These copies can be kept in the employee’s personnel file.
  • Medical records, including medical certifications, recertifications and medical histories of the employee or their family members, must be kept separately from the employee’s personnel file to protect his or her privacy. (If the ADA also applies to the employee’s situation, you must follow that law’s rules regarding the confidentiality of medical records.)
  • Other general documentation you must maintain includes descriptions of employee benefits and policies, and practices regarding paid and unpaid leave, plus the amount of premium payments made for employee benefits.
  • Records of any dispute between the employer and employee regarding designation of FMLA leave, including any written statement from the employer or employee of the reasons for the designation and for the disagreement.
  • Records must be kept for at least three years — and be available for inspection, copying and transcription by representatives of the DOL.
  • Any reproductions of records must be clear and identifiable by date or pay period.

Info: A tip of that hat goes to our sister website HR Benefits Alert, which originally published a version this article.