Getting your house in order when it comes to FMLA recordkeeping may save you a lot of grief later, says one FMLA expert.
It’s best to be proactive and conduct your own internal audit of your recordkeeping practices, says labor and employment law attorney Jim Dale of Stoel Rives LLP. That way, if there’s ever a dispute, you’ll be able to produce the required documentation without delay.
It’s especially important to be on top of your game since, according to the law, the burden of establishing eligibility for FMLA leave is on the employer. And if you fail to keep adequate records, you could find yourself on the losing end of a court battle.
Here’s a rundown of the FMLA’s recordkeeping requirements:
- Records must be kept for at least three years.
- You can maintain the records as you see fit (i.e., hard copies or electronic records) but they must be capable of being reviewed or copied.
- The records must contain basic payroll and other data detailing the employee’s compensation.
- If the employee’s leave amounts to less than a full work day (as happens during intermittent FMLA leave), you’re required to document the number of hours taken.
- You must maintain copies of any written notices you receive from the employee and copies of all written notices you give to the employee. These copies can be kept in the employee’s personnel file.
- Medical records including medical certifications, recertifications and medical histories of the employee or their family members must be kept separately from the employee’s personnel file to protect his or her privacy. (If the ADA also applies to the employee’s situation, you must follow that law’s rules regarding confidentiality of medical records.)
- Other general documentation you must maintain includes descriptions of employee benefits and policies, and practices regarding paid and unpaid leave, plus the amount of premium payments made for employee benefits.