On July 16, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, or WHD, released 16 optional-use forms for employers to use when coordinating Family and Medical Act leave. The WHD specified that employers are not required to use the forms; they can submit their collected information in any format.

The updated forms should be easier and simpler for employers, employees, administrators and health care providers to use and understand. Forms that received updates included those used for designation notices, eligibility, and rights and responsibilities. According to the WHD press release, the updated forms feature more questions that can be answered with a checkbox and options to use electronic signatures. The WHD says these changes should reduce the chance of violations and save users time.

The changes came after the WHD proposed revisions and asked for comments last summer. Once again, the department is asking for employee and employer feedback on the changes with comments closing on Sept. 15, 2020.

According to many HR professionals, the FMLA process is burdensome. The most challenging part of administering leave is the number of FMLA tasks, said 47% of attendees at a January 2019 Disability Management Employer Coalition webinar. There are some things FMLA administrators can do to improve the process, DMEC presenters said. For instance, HR professionals can keep their own timelines in sync with WHD requirements.

The inherent difficulty in FMLA management can lead to confusion between employers, the WHD and employees. When an employee feels that their right to family leave has been infringed upon, it may fall upon the employer to provide evidence regarding the handling of an employee’s family leave request. In that case, the employer might want to consult with an attorney with experience in employment law and FMLA case management.