FMLA – Fed Up, Miserable, Loathing...AAARUGH!

Is that what FMLA stands for? Some days it seems like it!


Of course, FMLA stands for the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Wisconsin employers are also covered by Wisconsin FMLA, and for most of us we administer those laws in tandem.

Generally, if you have 50 or more employees, you may be subject to one or both of the laws.

We all know that these laws were put in place with good intentions and for good purposes. The laws are meant to protect the employment of workers who need to take time off for purposes related to the medical needs of themselves or their families, for new parents to bond with their newborns, and for military families needing time to prepare for deployment. The laws are also meant to protect the employee benefits and seniority of the employees who find themselves needing to take a leave.

And in general, most FMLA situations are straightforward and the law works just as it was intended to. An employee welcomes a new baby to their lives – that’s a pretty simple leave to administer. An employee breaks their leg and needs 4 weeks off work to heal – that’s pretty simple. An employee has a family member in military service deploying overseas and they need a week off to prepare – that’s pretty simple.

However, other situations are not so simple. It seems with FMLA administration, scenarios tend to fall on opposite ends of a spectrum – they are either quite straightforward and easy, or, very complex and difficult. Few fall in between.

A few examples of FMLA situations that challenge us are ones where:

  • Workers Compensation runs concurrent with FMLA.
  • Employees need intermittent leave.
  • Employees have multiple FMLA certifications in place for themselves and family members.
  • Employees qualify for protection under either Federal or State leave, but not both.
  • Employees have disabilities as protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Employees exhaust their leave.
  • Employers have multiple locations some of which may be covered by FMLA, others of which may not.

Ensuring appropriate paperwork has been completed and returned, and tracking of time off taken are other challenges. Along with these, HR professionals must administer these leaves in keeping with many other laws that may come into play such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act, Workers Compensation laws and ADA as mentioned earlier.

Training and education on complex FMLA situations is a request that we often receive. In response to these requests, we are hosting a Webinar on April 20, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. entitled “Family Medical Leave Act” (FMLA) Beyond the Basics.

Register Now


We are delighted to announce that Bob Gregg of Boardman & Clark law firm will host this webinar. Bob co-chairs the Labor & Employment Group at Boardman & Clark Law Firm in Madison, Wisconsin. He has been involved in employment relations for more than 30 years and litigates employment cases, representing employers in all areas of employment law. His main emphasis is helping employers achieve enhanced productivity. He has designed the policies of numerous employers, creating positive work environments and resolving employment problems before they generate lawsuits. Mr. Gregg has conducted more than 3,000 seminars throughout the United States and authored numerous articles on practical employment issues.

Posted in: Human Resources, FMLA

Posted by Mary Jo Spiekerman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

With over 20 years of human resources management in numerous industries, Mary Jo is uniquely qualified to advise the clients of Hausmann-Johnson Insurance on human resources related issues. She provides guidance on complex employment topics such as employee relations, talent management, recruitment, onboarding, and training. Mary Jo and her team help “lighten the load” for clients that may otherwise spend a lot of time, effort and energy attempting to do their own risk management and employee benefits administration. Mary Jo is especially excited about the journey Hausmann-Johnson has taken to become designated as a Great Place to Work by the Great Place to Work Institute. She began studying the process over 10 years ago and when she joined Hausmann-Johnson she knew the pieces were in place to catapult the agency onto the list of the 10 Best Places to Work in Insurance, which was achieved in 2015. Mary Jo is a graduate of Marian University with degrees in Business Administration and Human Relations. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Community Support Network and serves as a consultant to the Personnel Committee of her village board. When she’s not working she takes the time to relax with family and friends at her cabin on the Wisconsin/Upper Michigan border.