MARCH 1, 2015
Use updated FMLA forms ... at least for the rest of March
With almost no advance notice, the federal government has revised recently expired FMLA forms to reflect a new effective date: March 31, 2015. The core suite of FMLA forms—doctors’ certifications of serious health conditions, notices of rights and responsibilities and designation notices—was set to expire Feb. 28, 2015.
On Feb. 25, notice of a one-month extension appeared in the Federal Register, and on March 1, the Department of Labor’s FMLA Web page added links to updated forms carrying the March 31 expiration date.
Practical impact: Right now, probably none. If past practice holds true, using your recently expired FMLA forms you may have printed out will still suffice. Or you can use these new forms from the DOL's website and print fresh ones:
The U.S. Department of Labor has released new updated FMLA certification and notification forms that won't expire for three more years. These new forms carry an expiration date of Feb. 28, 2015 in the upper right corner. Employers can use these DOL forms directly in their organizations, or they can use the forms as models and create their own versions.
These "updated" versions, however, did not include any substantive changes from the ones employers have used for the past several years, only the expiration date. That was somewhat of a surprise because the DOL did not use this opportunity to fix a pair of key shortcomings on their FMLA forms. Those shortcomings (which will likely be addressed in newly updated FMLA forms released later) include:
1) Any references to the additional FMLA rights provided under the 2010 amendments for military family leave.
2) Any reference to the “safe harbor” privacy language required under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA). The law says that employers who request medical certifications from employees must instruct health care providers not to collect or provide any genetic information about the person.
For that reason, it’s wise to add language to your FMLA medical certification forms. The EEOC has suggested that employers add this language to any form that requests health-related information from their employees:
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) prohibits employers and other entities covered by GINA Title II from requesting or requiring genetic information of an individual or family member of the individual, except as specifically allowed by this law. To comply with this law, we are asking that you not provide any genetic information when responding to this request for medical information. “Genetic information,” as defined by GINA, includes an individual’s family medical history, the results of an individual’s or family member’s genetic tests, the fact that an individual or an individual’s family member sought or received genetic services, and genetic information of a fetus carried by an individual or an individual’s family member or an embryo lawfully held by an individual or family member receiving assistive reproductive services.
If you provide this type of warning and follow the other GINA rules, the EEOC says, "any genetic information the entity acquires will be considered inadvertent." Thus, this wording attached to your FMLA forms helps create a “safe harbor” for employers.
Editor's Note: For more information on the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, please visit GINA: Compliance tips for employers
DOL MODEL FMLA FORMS, updated with 2015 expiration date: