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Claim Your Free Copy of Top 100 FLSA Overtime Q&As

We’ve compiled a list of the 100 most commonly asked questions we have received on the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime regulations.
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This report, "Top 100 FLSA Q&As", is designed to provide you with an examination of the federal FLSA overtime regulations in Q&A format, including valuable tips for bringing your workplace into compliance in an affordable manner.

At the end of the report, you will find a list of state resources on wage and hour issues. This report includes practical advice on topics such as:
  • FLSA Coverage: How FLSA regulations apply to all employers and any specific exemptions from the overtime requirements
  • Salary Level: Qualifying for exemptions and nonexempt employees
  • Deductions from Pay: Deducting for violations, disciplinary reasons, sick leave, or personal leave

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February 03, 2003
Poll: And the Biggest HR Headache Is . . .
May 21, 2001

What government regulations are most likely to have an HR manager reaching for the aspirin?

Those pertaining to the Family and Medical Leave Act -- by far, according to the latest poll.

Of the poll's 237 participants, 51 percent chose FMLA as their biggest regulatory headache. Coming in a very distant second were the regulations dealing with affirmative action, at 15 percent.

Besides FMLA and affirmative action, poll participants could choose from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, and the employee-insurance provisions of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA.)

ERISA and OSHA each drew 9 percent of the votes; OSHA and COBRA got 8 percent each.

FMLA was signed into law in 1993, to help Americans who found it increasingly difficult to balance work and family responsibilities.

Two major demographic changes fed those concerns: the arrival in the workforce of more women and the general “graying” of the population.

FMLA, therefore, is meant to protect workers from losing their jobs when they take time off to address critical personal and family matters, whether it's the birth of a child or the illness of a parent.

It requires employers with 50 or more employees to grant up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in any 12-month period to eligible employees for the birth or adoption of a child, for their own illness, or to care for a seriously ill relative.

Biggest Headache

For a Limited Time receive a FREE Compensation Special Report on the "Top 100 FLSA Q&As," designed to provide you with an examination of the federal FLSA Overtime Regulations in Q&A format, including valuable tips for FLSA Coverage, Salary Level, and Deductions from Pay. Download Now

FMLA - 51%

Action - 15%

ADA - 9%

OSHA - 8%

COBRA - 8% poll,
May 15-21, 2001.
Total votes: 237.

But for HR managers, the act appears to be a nightmare, no matter how well intentioned.

Those who joined in the discussion accompanying the poll indicated that it's especially difficult to deal with the medical-certification requirements of FMLA.

The law allows employers to require advance notice and medical certification from employees seeking leave. That, in turn, usually means waiting on paperwork from a doctor as well the employee.

"It is hard enough to get the employees to understand and fill out the forms -- and return them," wrote Marilyn Polan, director of human resources at Allied Realty in Huntington, W.Va. "But dealing with the medical 'professionals' will be my death. They have refused to give me any documentation, any plan of treatment, any follow up."

Moreover, she said, they "tell me that the employee could not possibly return to work in the foreseeable future and then release the employee because the employee requested it, not because the treatment has been completed or successful!"

"How," she asked, "do we educate the medical professionals so that we can work together?"

Velma Pinkard, who handles HR for the 1,440-employee Orange County Corrections Department in Orlando, Fla., said FMLA "has been a thorn in my side from Day One!"

"Trying to figure out what is and is not a serious health condition is enough to give you a nervous breakdown," she wrote. "And if that's not enough to send you over the edge, then you have to deal with employees who abuse the leave and supervisors who don't have a clue.

"While I think the concept is good, I think there needs to be more definitive guidelines."

As difficult as it may be to administer, the act appears to be benefiting employers and employees alike. The U.S. Department of Labor found in a 2000 survey that FMLA had either a positive impact or no noticeable impact on productivity, profitability, and growth for more than 80 percent of covered employers.

U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat who authored the legislation, greeted the report as proof that "family and medical leave is doing what it should -- helping families."

Still, that's small consolation for one of the HR managers who participated in the discussion. He wrote that some employees drag their feet when it comes to filling out the necessary forms, while others don't give notification of leave until after they've called in sick -- and had surgery.

"It's not a headache," he wrote. "It's a migraine with a hematoma to the chin and a skull fracture combined."

Join the poll discussion in the Community section, or visit the library for an article on the basics of FMLA.

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