Last December, the DOL brought Helen Applewhaite on board as the agency’s new FMLA Branch Chief. So what can firms expect from the agency’s new FMLA Chief?
At a recent FMLA/ADA compliance conference, Applewhaite called 2014 a “pivotal” year for enforcement and offered employers the following preview of what to expect:
More visits, requests & worker questions
1. More on-site visits, more often. If employers take one thing from Applewhaite’s presentation, it should be this: Be prepared for a DOL visit before it comes knocking.
2. Detailed record requests. Applewhaite also said the DOL will be focusing on “systemic” (i.e., very detailed) FMLA issues and that a standard request from the DOL will be for information over a two-year period.
3. Manager involvement. The DOL wants to know that both frontline supervisors and individuals in the leave process are clear on your FMLA policy.
Managers will actually be expected to walk an agency investigator through an employee’s leave request, which makes supervisor training that much more important.