Employers must stay in compliance with FMLA during holidays, other closings
Q: How do employers calculate FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) days during holidays and other times when the business isn't operating?
A: That depends upon whether the employee takes FMLA leave for the entire week in which the holiday occurs. For example, if a company holiday occurs on Wednesday and the employee takes FMLA leave for that entire week, then the whole week, including the holiday, will count toward the employee's 12 weeks of annual FMLA leave. On the other hand, if the employee doesn't take FMLA leave for the entire week, the holiday won't count toward the employee's FMLA leave entitlement, unless the employee was scheduled to work on the holiday and chose to use FMLA leave for that particular day. If the company shuts down for one or more entire weeks for a holiday, renovations, summer vacation or other reason and employees aren't expected to work during that period, no leave taken during the shutdown counts toward an employee's FMLA leave entitlement.
Q: Do employers have to pay holiday pay when an employee is on FMLA leave?
A: With the exception of benefits under a group health plan, an employee's entitlement to benefits during a period of FMLA leave, including holiday pay, is determined by the employer's established policy for providing those benefits when the employee is out on other forms of leave, either paid or unpaid. Thus, if the employer's policy is to provide holiday pay to other employees who are taking unpaid leave for non-FMLA reasons during the holiday, it should pay those employees who are taking FMLA leave during the holiday as well. Conversely, if the employer doesn't provide holiday pay to employees taking other forms of unpaid leave, it needn't do so for employees taking FMLA leave.
Q: Is there anything else employers should do to stay in compliance with FMLA regulations during the holidays or company closings?
A: Employers must always be sure to treat comparable forms of leave the same way. Often, forms of paid leave, such as vacation or accrued paid time off, run concurrently with FMLA leave. If an employer provides holiday pay to employees who are using paid leave during a holiday, it should do the same for employees who are on FMLA leave and are receiving some form of paid leave, even if the employer's policies don't allow holiday pay for workers on unpaid leave.
PAULA BURKES, Business Writer
Published The Oklahoman, December 13, 2018