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FMLA Leave of Absence: Answers, Tips, and Tools for Coordinating Leave

Every employee wants to know that if something were to happen, their employer has their best interests in mind. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that helps to protect the health and welfare of eligible employees by providing 12 weeks of paid leave entitlement each calendar year. The FMLA Leave of Absence ensures that employees won't lose their job to care for a sick family member or because of their own serious health conditions. 

This article will cover the basics of what every employer should know about the act and their employees' leave. It will also highlight why automation support like Pulpstream is the optimal platform for hassle-free leave management.

What Are Qualifying Reasons to Access FMLA Leave of Absence?

Eligibility requirements for FMLA leave of absence include employees who have been employed for 12 months who have worked at least 1,250 hours in that period (not necessarily consecutively), which is about 24 hours per workweek as stated on the website. These 12 months can be spread out over an extended period with an upper limit of seven years.

The FMLA leave of absence law protects private sector companies with over 50 employees within a 75-mile radius only, while other family medical leave laws may cover companies with less than 50 employees.

The leave policy applies to those who are experiencing:

  • Military family leave including military caregiver leave status and another military qualifying exigency like jumping in to support a family member who is called for active duty or military service
  • The birth of a child or other medical reasons related to a newborn child
  • The placement of a child for adoption or foster care
  • A sick immediate family member, including the employee's spouse
  • Personal medical conditions and serious health conditions

There are four available options to determine the 12-month period for FMLA:

  1. By calendar year
  2. A fixed "leave year" based on any 12-month period (for example, fiscal year or the employee's anniversary date)
  3. The 12-month period marked by the start date of an employee's first FMLA leave of absence
  4. Retroactively from the date that an employee's first FMLA leave of absence begins

Pro tip: This additional information should be provided to all employees who enter an FMLA request

As covered employers, your communication with employees is critical from the start of the request and throughout the leave process.

Once an employee requests their weeks of leave, you must approve or deny the request within five business days—a perfect opportunity for automation support.

Whether an employee is approved or not for this type of leave, you must provide notice to them of your role and responsibilities under the FMLA Leave of Absence Act. 

This notice should include:

  • How you will define the 12-month period 
  • Whether you require medical certification from their health care provider (if this is requested, employees have a maximum of 15 calendar days to provide it to you)
  • Whether they will be required to pay premiums to maintain their health benefits
  • Clear language that emphasizes their right to return to work at the end of the FMLA leave or intermittent leave

Pulpstream Helps Right Away, Here's How

FMLA leave of absence: Pulpstream website

Pulpstream makes it easy to automate the leave of absence process. It's designed to ensure that all involved gain positive momentum forward. This adaptability reduces risks for your organization, indirectly supports retention, and ensures nothing gets missed when it comes to compliance. 

Here are five perks to the Pulpstream platform that make it clear it's time to ditch the manual labor:

1. Logic-Driven Workflows Means No Steps Get Missed

The amount of energy that goes into double and triple-checking paperwork can zap the energy right out of the team. Add on manually keeping tabs on the time-sensitive milestones in a bustling organization, and it's a lot for anyone in the human resources team to handle.

Automatic reminders at every stage of the process ensure that employees get relevant updates when the leave starts, before they return to work, and if escalation occurs. Notifications also happen when a necessary document is missing to complete the approval process, which can be a lifesaver for the affected employee.

Since every case is different as it evolves, Pulpstream has a built-in exception management option. It’s a seemingly simple feature that goes a long way.

2. Integrated and Consolidated Data for Collaborative Access

When it comes time to preview trends and reporting, Pulpstream makes it super easy. Integrated data ensures all the right stakeholders have access when it comes time to make data-driven decisions. Rather than managing multiple forms, data sources, and certifications — it's all safely stored in one place.

3. Streamlined Communication Keeps Everyone Connected

No more snail mail means improved efficiency. Pulpstream provides essential communications directly via email or SMS, so employees can easily upload medical certificates and share requested documentation. This upgraded user-friendly experience is a stand-out feature, especially during unexpected leaves where a certain level of immediacy is required.

All processing members can create customizable dashboards that users can access via an intuitive self-service portal. This feature ensures that communications are captured and stored in each employee's record, centralizing critical information and saving time.

4. A Cloud-Based Platform Means Greater Accessibility and Security

Cloud-based systems and workflows are accessed securely from any connected device. This agility means that your team can quickly get back online and process requests even when there's business disruption. Employees on leave can check the status of their requests conveniently without having to be tied down at their work computer. Making the process easy for your team member during a difficult time will be remembered.

5. Intelligent Notifications Keep Employer and Employee on Task

Real-time notifications mean your team is kept in the loop every step of the way. Missing information can lead to a request getting denied. The employee is informed promptly so that they can get the missing piece. When processes go according to plan and procedure, it delights managers and teammates.

6. No-Code Means No Worries

No-code is not just friendly for your budget but also for your users, employees, and IT department too! No coding knowledge is needed to use, run, or access Pulpstream, and its no-frills usability means that the whole team can get up and running in a flash. Who doesn't love a beautiful, easy-to-use interface?

Choose Automation Tools to Lighten the Load

Happy team posing for a photo

The systems you put in place to make things easier when managing FMLA Leave of Absence requests will benefit your team for the following reasons:

  • Those processing requests will appreciate the investment made to make their job more manageable
  • Your employees will feel relief in one of the most vulnerable moments 

Both of these reasons bode well for your workplace culture and team satisfaction. While the laws are in place with or without automation; a more direct and efficient user experience means one less thing to worry about on both ends. 

Pulpstream designed these features as a team that cares about teams. With a host of tutorials and stellar support, Pulpstream is there to ensure your digital transformation is smooth, streamlined, and saves everyone time. Request a demo to see firsthand all the ways we can support your team’s process.