Texas Employment Laws
Effective immediately, the Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) will now require employers to offer employees the opportunity to use intermittent leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to attend Individualized Education Program (IEP).
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), public schools are obligated to create Individualized Education Program (IEP) for any child, “who receives special education and related services with input from the child and the child’s parents, teachers, school administrators, and related services personnel.” Additionally, the most recent decision concludes that FMLA applies to any meetings “held pursuant to the IDEA, and any applicable state or local law.” The wording of this Opinion can be interpreted to mean that FMLA protections for employees can include intermittent leave for parent-teacher conferences, individualized course-planning and other specialized education meetings.
Employer obligations under FMLA have expanded under recent court decisions creating serious exposures and confusion.
For example, FMLA protections must be offered to employees from employers who have more than 50 employees (regardless of distance and/or radius between locations). Employees may qualify for FMLA protection if they work at a facility that has more than 50 employees in a 75-mile radius.
However, employers who are UNDER 50 are now required to notify employees of what FMLA protections are available to them; handbook policies are NOT considered ample notification regardless of whether or not employees have signed the employee handbook receipt.
Furthermore, employees are NOT required to ask for FMLA. It is incumbent upon employers to recognize the triggers for FMLA notification and send out appropriate information as listed below:
When an employee has a qualifying leave event (whether standard or intermittent leave), they should always receive (in-person with a signed receipt AND regular mail:
- Notification of rights and responsibilities
- Certification of a Health Care Provider (with a job description)
- Agreement to pay benefits while on leave (if applicable)
- A letter (with signed receipt) describing important dates and milestones (such as the date information is due, use and accrual of paid time off, and that the employee is required to provide a return-to-work notice indicating potential accommodations)
Upon receipt of the information, employers should send a Designation Notice and a letter describing milestones and important dates.
Employees who are denied FMLA because they have not worked for one year (and/or 1,250 hours in the current or preceding year), they do not work for an employer with 50 or more employees OR they do not work at a location that has 50 or more employees in a 75-mile radius, should receive virtually the same information. FMLA will also run CONCURRENT with Workers’ Compensation-related time off.
Remember also that employees who do not qualify for FMLA may still be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and unpaid personal leaves of absence.
Most employers (regardless of number of belly buttons in the census) find FMLA to be very confusing (and infuriating, if I am being honest). Just remember that I am here to help. A good place to start is to make sure your handbook policies cover the following (not an exhaustive list):
- FMLA (should be at least 8 pages long)
- Non-FMLA leave (typically called Unpaid Personal Leave of Absence/pregnancy leave/paternity leave)
- Policies delineating how paid leave should be used during leaves of absence (are employees required to use, can request to use or request not using)
- Return-to-work programs
- Disabilities accommodation policies
- Workers’ Compensation policies
- Attendance policies and requirements under leaves of absence
- Strong privacy (HIPAA) policies that STRICTLY PROHIBIT any communication (electronic or otherwise) about any medical information whatsoever
IMPORTANT: never EVER send FMLA information or paperwork via EMAIL
In addition to other support services, Ask Linda HR Consulting Services offers personalized and realistic Employee Handbook reviews AND FMLA training (and administration) according to your business model and culture.
Although I have tried to highlight the important issues, I am a multi-state human resources/employment law professional and NOT a writer (I am sure you can tell)…so please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or a free onsite consultation.
Linda Drassen, BSM, MM/HRM, PHR, SHRM-CP
President & Your Personal Human Resources Sherpa
Proud member of the ASA
Please join me on November 22, 2016 for the NEW Form I-9 training.
WHERE: Memco, 10876 Hillpoint Drive, San Antonio, TX 78217
WHEN: November 22, 2016 from 8:00 am – 11:00 a.m.
$45.00 per person at the door OR $180.00 per person for the entire HR Training Series.
You may also pay at Paypal.com (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Seating is INCREDIBLY LIMITED so please RSVP by November 21, 2016. Because of the limited space, NO REFUNDS WILL BE GIVEN.
**Although the topics are subject to change, the HR Training Series will include important topis such as FLSA (Wage & Hour Compliance), Federal Contract Compliance, Winning Unemployment Claims, Safety Audits, and FMLA
I hope that everyone had a fantastic holiday season and are ready to move forward toward a tremendous 2016!
As you may already know, the Texas Open Carry laws went into effect January 1, 2016. If you are like most employers, you are likely confused about what this means for your employees and your organization. The information below is my attempt at making this new law a little easier for you to understand:
WHAT IS IT?
Effective January 1, 2016, licensed individuals can openly carry firearms on their person in a shoulder or belt holster on most public and private places, with few exceptions. Prior to the implementation of HB 910, Texas law required that license holders carry their firearms in a “concealed” manner.
WHAT DOES IT DO?
This law authorizes individuals with a license to carry a handgun to “openly carry” their handguns in all locations that allow the licensed carrying of a “concealed” handgun.
HOW DOES IT AFFECT EMPLOYERS?
Private employers can still prohibit the carrying of either open or concealed weapons onto their premises by posting notices in compliance with both Texas Penal Code Section 30.06 and 30.07 in English and Spanish. The employer can also choose to allow concealed carrying but prohibit open carrying by posting only the notice in Section 30.07 (in English and Spanish).
Employers must still allow an employee who holds a license to carry a concealed handgun, who otherwise lawfully possesses a firearm, or who lawfully possesses ammunition, to transport or store that firearm or ammunition in a locked, privately owned motor vehicle in a parking lot, parking garage, or other parking area the employer provides for employees.
Further, effective August 1, 2016, licensed individuals may carry concealed handguns into classrooms, dormitories and other buildings at public and private universities. Private universities have the option to opt out of the law, and many have or are expected to do so. Most public universities are researching and developing guidelines on how best to implement the law. The law does not allow open carry on campuses, and students must still be 21 to receive their license to carry.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO?:
Employers will be required to post their Handgun Restriction Posters on ALL entrances of their establishment, including employee entrances.
1) If you wish to ban ALL handguns (concealed and open carry), you will need a set of both 30.06 and 30.07 posted at all entrances of the establishment.
2) If you wish only to ban concealed handguns and not open carry handguns, you only need to post 30.06.
3) If you wish only to ban open carry handguns and not concealed handguns, you only need to post 30.07.
You can purchase these posters from: FederalAndStateLaborLawPosterStore.com or with whomever you purchase your law posters from. I can provide you with a sample for free – just let me know.
Your handbooks should contain a written policy that outlines the mandatory restriction of employees from carrying or possessing firearms while on the job and state that policy violators will be dealt with immediately with appropriate penalties, including termination and possible criminal prosecution.
As always, I am here to help guide you through these confusing policies – 2016 seems to be an active “new policy” year for our government, so if you need a handbook, want to talk about your exempt versus non-exempt labor exposure, or need other HR services, please reach out to me and I will contact you immediately.
Have a GREAT 2016!