Leave Management, Policy, and Compliance

FMLA-FLSA-ERISA: Another Bermuda Triangle?

In yesterday’s Advisor, we entered the Bermuda Triangle of HR—the dangerous waters where the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) intersect. Today, we’ll see what the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) have to do with the FMLA, and we’ll introduce a comprehensive program that will keep your FMLA hassles to a minimum.

Once again, our guidance is courtesy of BLR’s Family and Medical Leave Act Compliance Guide.


The FMLA allows for the discontinuation of employee health benefits during a leave if the employee fails to pay his or her portion of the premium. However, the FMLA requires that any discontinued benefits provided pursuant to an employee benefit plan, as defined by ERISA, be resumed when an employee returns from FMLA leave, without any qualifying period.

This requirement makes it necessary for employers to review their benefit plans to ensure that an employee returning from leave will be able to be fully reinstated to all benefits. For example, it may be necessary for the employer to continue life insurance for an employee on FMLA leave to avoid the employee’s having to pass a new physical for the life insurance carrier.

In addition, any period of FMLA leave must be treated as continued service for purposes of vesting and eligibility to participate in pension and other retirement plans.


The FMLA and the FLSA interact in two important ways. First, the FMLA provides a special FLSA exemption for salaried, exempt employees. Second, the FMLA requires that FMLA-covered entities maintain records in accordance with the FLSA.

Exemption for Salaried Employees

Normally, employers may not deduct hourly amounts from exempt employees’ salaries. The FMLA provides an exception, stating that an employer may deduct hourly amounts from an employee’s salary when providing FMLA leave without affecting the employee’s exempt status under the FLSA.

FMLA Changes—expected to be the #1 hassle of 2010. BLR’s compliance guide is ready to help now. Click here to find out more about the Family and Medical Leave Act Compliance Guide.


The burden of proof is on the employer to prove an employee is ineligible for leave because he or she has not worked the requisite 1,250 hours. In determining an employee’s eligibility for leave under the FMLA, the appropriate measure of “hours of service” is the standard used by the FLSA that considers only actual hours worked by the employee.

If you do not keep time records, you may have a difficult time establishing your case. To this end, the FMLA requires employers to make, keep, and preserve records related to their obligations under the FMLA, according to the recordkeeping requirements of the FLSA.

FMLA hassles—they just won’t go away, will they? And, now, of course, there are all the new FMLA responsibilities—like military leave and reinstatement.  Still a little shell-shocked?

It’s an almost overwhelming task to keep up with the FMLA, let alone get in compliance with the far-reaching changes. You’re going to need a helping hand. Good news! BLR’s editors have gone into overdrive to get your comprehensive compliance guide ready.

A whirlwind of changes has hit the FMLA—are you ready to comply? Order BLR’s comprehensive guidebook and find out what you need to do. You’ll get expert FMLA guidance, forms, and concrete examples. Find out more.

BLR’s recently updated Family and Medical Leave Act Compliance Guide simplifies the frustrating and confusing complexities of the FMLA, so you know exactly how to comply in every situation.

It contains practical answers to all the FMLA questions you are asking—and the ones you haven’t thought of but should be asking.

The Family and Medical Leave Act Compliance Guide includes:

  • Leave law overview
  • All the new forms and advice on how to use them
  • Practical guidance on implementing all aspects of the new rules
  • Analysis of federal and state laws, what they require, and how they interact
  • Leave circumstances, coverage, and eligibility—for FMLA, ADA, workers’ comp, and military leave
  • Recordkeeping and reporting requirements
  • Reasonable accommodation
  • Sample policies and forms


  • A quarterly newsletter and updates to make sure you stay in compliance as any changes come about

Get more information or order your copy of the Family and Medical Leave Act Compliance Guide.

Other Recent Articles on Leave Policy/Compliance
The 3-Legged Dance of FMLA, PDA, and COBRA
DOL Agrees: With Intermittent Leave, Enough Is Enough
Hard-Core Approach to Intermittent FMLA Gets Results
Denial of FMLA Reinstatement: Employee Options