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Salary and Benefits while on FMLA
Posted on December 7, 2016 by Andrea Shindlebower in Salary and Benefits, FMLA, FSLA

Weekly HR News – FMLA

Salary and Benefits while on FMLA

In many cases, cities choose to provide unpaid leave while an employee is on FMLA, but may require that an employee use accrued paid leave (i.e. vacation or sick leave) during FMLA leave.  However the city decides to handle, the information must be included within the employee handbook. 

While on FMLA the employer must maintain the employee’s group health insurance at the same level they would if the employee were not on FMLA.  For example, if the employer pays 100% of the employee plan, the employer would continue to do this during leave.  If the employee pays a portion of their health insurance premium, the employee must continue to pay their portion while on leave.  The employer has the option to pay the entire amount during the employee’s absence and recover the employee’s portion when the employee returns to work.  The same is true, if the employer pays 100% of the family plan, the employer would continue to pay 100% of the family plan while the employee is on leave.  (29 C.F.R. § 825.209)

If the employee is responsible for any portion of their premium and fails to pay while out on leave, the employer’s obligation to maintain health insurance will cease once the premium is more than 30 days late.  However, once the employee is reinstated to work they must be restored to the coverage they would have had if leave had not been taken and the payments had not been missed. 

Other benefits provided by the employer, such as holiday pay, seniority and paid leave, are maintained as outlined in the employee handbook.  If not specified under FMLA in the handbook, they will or will not accrue depending on how other types of unpaid leave are handled.  For other benefits, such as elected life insurance coverage, the employer and the employee may make arrangements to continue these benefits during periods of unpaid FMLA leave. As with the group health insurance, an employer may elect to continue such benefits to ensure that the employee will be eligible to be restored to the same benefits upon returning to work. At the conclusion of the leave, the employer may recover only the employee's share of premiums it paid to maintain other "non-health" benefits during unpaid FMLA leave.

For additional questions regarding FMLA or other personnel related matters, contact Andrea Shindlebower Main, personnel services specialist.    

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New FLSA Overtime Rule ON HOLD
Posted on November 28, 2016 by Andrea Shindlebower in Salary and Benefits, FMLA, FSLA

New FLSA Overtime Rule on Hold

On Tuesday, November 22, 2016, a federal judge in Texas issued an injunction regarding the new overtime law that was to take effect December 1, 2016, putting on hold the FLSA overtime changes employers across the country have spent the last few months preparing for.

If upheld, the final rule would increase the salary threshold for exempt employees to more than double at $47,476 and would require employers to pay overtime to any employee who is under that threshold, no matter their job duties.  This injunction will put implementation of the changes within the final rule on hold while the courts determine whether or not the Department of Labor (DOL) has the authority to make such a final rule, as well as the validity of the final rule itself.

What does this mean for employers right now?  Employers will not need to reclassify employees on December 1st as nonexempt (hourly) as long as the employee is currently making more than $23, 660 and falls within the current DOL exemptions.  How long it will take for the court to review is anyone’s guess, so remain vigilant for any changes that may be coming down the pike.  KLC will continue to monitor this situation and update you as soon as information is released. 

If you have any questions on this new development contact Andrea Shindlebower Main, personnel services specialist at 859-977-3785 or ashindlebower@klc.org

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Six Ways to Show Employees You Are Thankful for Them!
Posted on November 15, 2016 by Andrea Shindlebower in Employee Appreciation

Six Ways to Show Employees You Are Thankful

During the month of November we tend to spend more time reflecting on all the things that we are thankful for, so why not take time to reflect on how thankful you are for those outstanding employees.  The ability to show appreciation in monetary ways, through bonuses, can be tricky for public agencies, so the need to be more creative in how we can show our appreciation is very important. 

Below are a few ideas that public agencies can implement from what I call the “ASPECT” approach:

  • Ask - Ask questions about their families, their weekend or a special event in their life. Be sure to be sincere in asking about the employee or it will come across as uncaring or nosey.
  • Schedule - If flexible scheduling is possible offer it to your employees.  Even if it is only for the holidays or summer breaks.  This helps employees to balance work and family time and can make for happier more productive employees.
  • Praise - Identify specific actions where the employee has gone over and above on a task.  By picking a specific task, rather than being general in praise, employees will know that the praise is genuine. 
  • Eat - Who doesn’t like food?  Surprise your employees with donuts or order pizza for lunch or even a chocolate treat.  Schedule lunch with employees and let them pick the restaurant. This could be for the holiday, or even better, for no reason at all.
  • Cultivate - Cultivate employees and allow them opportunities for growth. If permissible, place employees on boards or committees where their talents can be seen. Allow them to attend professional association meetings and represent your city at civic and charitable events.  When your city budgets allow, provide employees as much training as possible.  This is a win-win for both the employee and the city.  Be certain to discuss the potential for advancement as good employees will want opportunities to grow within the organization. 
  • Thanks - Say thank you.  A little kindness goes a long way.  Not only during the holiday season, but show your appreciation all year-long.

There are many aspects of employee appreciation, so find one that works for your organization and don’t stop implementing when the holidays are over.  For questions on this or other personnel related matters, contact Personnel Services Specialist Andrea Shindlebower.    

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Straight time or Overtime? What to do when the Time Changes

Weekly HR News - Straight time or overtime? 

Daylight Savings Time Ends on Sunday, November 6, 2016

Clocks turn back Sunday, November 6, and unless other arrangements are made (such as leave an hour early or come in an hour later) non-exempt employees on duty at that time (2 a.m. – 3 a.m.) which normally work an eight-hour shift, will have actually worked an extra hour, for a total of nine hours of work on that day. Nonexempt (hourly) employees must be paid for all nine hours of work under the Fair Labor Standards Act. They are also entitled to overtime pay for all hours in excess of 40 worked during the week, including the extra hour worked during the conversion back to standard time.

 

For sample policies, training or more information on this or any other personnel related matters contact Andrea ShindlebowerMain, personnel services specialist.  

Do you have an employment law or HR topic that you would like addressed in this article?  If so send an email to ashindlebower@klc.org.  

 

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Intermittent Leave under the FMLA
Posted on October 18, 2016 by Andrea Shindlebower in Salary and Benefits, FMLA, FSLA

Weekly HR News – FMLA

Intermittent Leave under the FMLA

Employees that are entitled to FMLA must be given 12 to 26 weeks of leave depending on the qualifying event as discussed in the previous articles.    What if the employee needs intermittent time off for a qualifying event?  For example, the employee can work but needs time off for physical therapy or for doctor appointments; or if the employee or their covered family member has only been released to return to work for partial work days or work weeks. 

For these type scenarios, the employee will be entitled to intermittent leave.  Intermittent leave is FMLA leave that will be taken in separate blocks of time due to a single qualifying reason (29 C.F.R. § 825.202).  Intermittent leave is only required to be given by an employer if:

  • Medically necessary due to the serious health condition of a covered family member or the employee;
  • Medically necessary due to the serious injury or illness of a covered service member; or
  • Necessary because of a qualifying exigency.

While employees are entitled to FMLA for the birth of a child, in order to take intermittent leave during this time, the employer must have a policy in place that allows it.  The only exception to this is when the employee has a pregnancy-related illness.  In that case, the employee would be allowed to take leave intermittently based on the serious health condition requirement.

When taking intermittent leave, the employee must try to schedule the leave in a way that will be least disruptive to city operations.  If necessary, the employer may even transfer an employee to an equivalent alternative position, as long as that position offers the same pay and benefits. (29 C.F.R. § 825.204)

For additional questions regarding FMLA or other personnel related matters, contact Andrea Shindlebower Main, personnel services specialist.    

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What types of events qualify for leave under the FMLA? Part 2 of 2
Posted on October 3, 2016 by Andrea Shindlebower in Salary and Benefits, FMLA, FSLA

Weekly HR News – FMLA

What types of events qualify for leave under the FMLA?  Part 2 of 2

Last week the article focused on the first three events that qualify for FMLA, which are birth or adoption of a child, care of an immediate family member with a serious health condition and recovery of series health condition by the employee.  This week we will look at the final two qualifications for leave in regards to military exigencies and care of an injured service member. 

  • The first is up to twelve (12) weeks of leave for qualifying exigencies arising out of a covered family member's active military duty.  There are eight (8) qualifying exigencies which are listed below:

(1)        Short-notice deployment, which refers to leave to address any issue that arises from the fact that a covered military member is notified of an impending call or order to active duty in support of a contingency operation seven (7) calendar days or less prior to the date of deployment. Leave for this purpose can be used for up to seven (7) calendar days beginning on the date the covered military member is notified of the impending call or order to active duty.

(2)        Military events and related activities which refers to leave to attend any official military ceremony, program, or event related to the active duty or call to active duty status or to attend certain family support or assistance programs and informational briefings.

(3)        Childcare and school activities which refers to leave to arrange for alternative childcare under certain circumstances; to provide childcare on an urgent, immediate need basis; to enroll in or transfer to a new school or daycare facility when necessary; or to attend meetings with staff at a school or daycare facility when necessary.

(4)        Financial and legal arrangements which refers to leave to make or update various financial or legal arrangements; or to act as the covered military member's representative before a federal, state, or local agency in connection with military service benefits.

(5)        Counseling which refers to leave to attend counseling (by someone other than a healthcare provider) for the employee, for the covered military member, or for a child or dependent when necessary as a result of the active duty or call to active duty status.

(6)        Rest and recuperation refers to leave to spend time with a covered military member who is on short-term, temporary, rest-and-recuperation leave during the period of deployment. Eligible employees may take up to five (5) days of leave for each instance of rest and recuperation.

(7)        Post-deployment activities refers to leave to attend arrival ceremonies, reintegration briefings and events, and any other official ceremony or program sponsored by the military for a period of 90 days following the termination of the covered military member's active duty status. This also refers to leave to address issues that arise from the death of a covered military member while on active duty status.

(8)        Additional activities refers to leave to address other events arising from the military duty provided that the employer and employee agree that such leave shall qualify as an exigency and agree to the timing and duration of such leave.

  • Up to twenty-six (26) weeks of leave in a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member recovering from a serious illness or injury.  Eligible employees are entitled to a combined total of up to 26 weeks of all types of FMLA leave. This gives an employee up to 26 weeks of leave to care for a member of the employee's family who was injured while in military service.  An eligible employee must be the spouse, child, parent or "next of kin" to "a member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness." 
    • Next of kin of a covered service member means the nearest blood relative other than the covered service member's spouse, parent, son, or daughter, in the following order of priority: blood relatives who have been granted legal custody of the covered service member by court decree or statutory provisions, brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and first cousins, unless the covered service member has specifically designated in writing another blood relative as his or her nearest blood relative for purposes of military caregiver leave under the FMLA. When no such designation is made, and there are multiple family members with the same level of relationship to the covered service member, all such family members shall be considered the covered service member's next of kin and may take FMLA leave to provide care to the covered service member, either consecutively or simultaneously. When such designation has been made, the designated individual shall be deemed to be the covered service member's only next of kin. 
    • "Serious injury or illness" is defined as "an injury or illness incurred by the member in line of duty on active duty in the Armed Forces that may render the member medically unfit to perform the duties of the member's office, grade, rank, or rating." 

The 26 weeks of leave available under this new provision are not in addition to the previous 12 weeks of leave under the FMLA.  An employee that uses 12 weeks of FMLA leave for another reason in one 12-month period would then only have 14 weeks of leave to care for an injured service member.   For purposes of calculating leave entitlement, the regulation provides that the single twelve month period "begins on the first day the eligible employee takes FMLA leave to care for the covered service member" regardless of the method used by the employer to determine the employee's twelve workweeks of leave entitlement for other FMLA qualifying reasons.

For additional questions regarding FMLA or other personnel related matters, contact Andrea Shindlebower, Personnel Services Specialist.    

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