The final rule specifies that employees, absent unusual circumstances, are required to follow an employer’s policy relating to proper call-in procedures for reporting FML absence(s). Employers may require employees seeking FML to call a "designated number or a specific individual to request leave." 29 C.F.R. § 825.303(c). Under old regulations, an employer could not delay or deny FML if an employee failed to follow protocol.
In a new ruling, it is specified that once FML has been granted for an employee's health condition, the employee must thereafter “specifically reference either the qualifying reason or the need for FML. Calling in “sick” without providing more information will not be considered sufficient notice to trigger an employer’s obligations under the Act.” 29 C.F.R. § 825.303(b).
In attempt to tighten up this section, the final regulations indicate that even for unforeseeable absences, it should be “practicable” for employees to request leave “either the same day or the next business day.” 29 C.F.R. § 825.302(b).
- Foreseeable Leave – Employees must provide employers with at least 30 days advance notice before FML is to begin if the need for leave is foreseeable. When the employee becomes aware of the need for leave and it is less than 30 days out, the employee needs to notify the employer as soon as “practicable,” such as the same day the employee becomes aware or the next day.
- Unforeseeable Leave – Employees must provide notice as soon as practicable and within the time prescribed by the employer’s usual and customary notice requirements. This means following the procedure such as calling in or using a specified number, if requested, by the employer.
Employees on Intermittent Leave
Remember, if you have employees on intermittent FML, it is imperative that they follow your city’s call in procedures for every absence (scheduled or unscheduled) and specify if each leave request will be FMLA related or not FMLA related. Without this information on every absence you will be unable to properly track FML time used.