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50 Employees in Ohio

We are quickly reaching that magic number of employees! As of now we’ve been about to just have an employee handbook. We are looking to add a policy of no more than 5 unpaid days off. Could you help us with this along with anything else we will need for reaching 50 employees? Thank you.

Kudos to you for approaching the magical number!

Federal laws soon to apply to you are the federal Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Affordable Care Act (ACA). If you’re a federal contractor, you should also be aware of the Employer Information Report EEO-1 which requires specified employment data be submitted annually to the EEOC.

The FMLA provides qualified employees of covered employers up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job protected leave for specified family and medical reasons.

Covered employers include those who employ 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius in 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year. An eligible employee is one who has worked for their employer for at least 12 months and has worked for at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months.

It’s advisable to take a training course on the FMLA. The law may seem upfront.

However, it’s very easy for any employer to become confused regarding their obligations especially when other factors may need to be taken into consideration like worker’s compensation or disability. Of course, you can always ask us questions!

The other federal law is the ACA, still commonly referred to as Obama Care. The ACA requires large employers to offer healthcare benefits to employees or possibly face penalties. Large employers under the ACA are those with 50 or more full time equivalent employees. Full time employees are those who regularly work 35 hours or more per week.

If you currently provide health insurance than your provider/broker should already be adhering to the many insurance provisions set forth under the ACA. If not, it’s best to seek guidance from a knowledgeable broker. There are many brokers that cater to smaller businesses and they can ensure your legal obligations under the ACA are met.

There are quite a few other federal regulations that you should already be aware of such as the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).

From a state standpoint, the OMFLA must be considered. Employers in Ohio with 50 or more employees are bound by the Ohio Military Family Leave Act (OMFLA). Under the law, employers must give time off to eligible employees who are the parent, spouse, or legal custodian of a member of the uniformed services who is called to active duty for more than 30 days or who is injured, wounded, or hospitalized on active service. The employee is entitled to ten days or 80 hours of unpaid leave, whichever is less, with benefits continuation.

Eligibility criteria under the OMFLA are similar to the military caregiver or qualifying exigency leave under the FMLA. However, there are minor differences that may extend benefits to an employee under the OMFLA but not under the FMLA. Thus, it’s important to know your obligations under this law.

It’s great that you’re in the process of creating an employee handbook. An employee handbook is a comprehensive resource for employees ensuring they are aware of company policies including codes of conduct, timekeeping/pay/overtime, benefits, attendance, performance management, discipline, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, workplace violence, drug and alcohol abuse, smoking, complaints/concerns procedure, safety, and electronic communication. Employee handbooks can also ensure compliance with published statements requirements.

Make sure your policies are clearly written and easily understood. The purpose of them is to inform employees of your expectations of them and their entitlements under certain laws. Confusing or misleading information will only create problems later on.

In regards to your wanting to adopt a policy of no more than 5 unpaid days off…It’s acceptable to do so but you must be careful with the wording. Employees needing an unpaid leave of absence may be protected under the FMLA, OMFLA, or ADA. (Welcome to the alphabet soup of employment law!) Thus, it’s important to include a statement that the unpaid personal leave of absence policy is for employees who need time off in addition to leave entitlements under federal or state law.

In the policy remember to include:
• eligibility criteria (i.e. full time employees who have passed their probation period and are in good standing),
• how to request a personal leave (i.e. via written letter/specified form given to the employee’s supervisor),
• the approval process (i.e. supervisor/Director/HR to approve), and
• return to work expectations/consequences (i.e. employees must return to work on the approved return to work date or be considered to have resigned).

Make it clear that the leave is unpaid. Furthermore, include that the approval for the leave is done on a case-by-case basis and at the discretion of the employer based on the employee’s standing and business needs.

Lastly, make sure your compliance posters are up-to-date and now include the necessary FMLA information.


This entry was posted on Monday, January 25th, 2016 at 1:39 pm and is filed under
Benefits, Human Resources Management, Labor Laws.
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