This is how you determine whether a remote employee is FMLA-eligible


Employees are eligible for FMLA leave when they have worked for the employer for at least 12 months, have at least 1,250 hours of service for the employer during the 12-month period immediately preceding the leave, and work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.

So, how does that 50/75 part work when employees work remotely?

Yesterday, I received a copy of a Field Assistance Bulletin that the U.S. Department of Labor uses to train field staff. That bulletin explains on the 50/75 rule works for remote workers.

And now, I’ll explain it to you.

First, we must determine when to start counting when 50 employees work within 75 miles. Do that when the employee gives notice of the need for leave.

Second, we must figure out if 50 employees work within 75 miles. For FMLA eligibility purposes, when an employee works from home or otherwise teleworks, their worksite is the office to which they report or from which their assignments are made. The employee’s personal residence is not a worksite.

Got it?

The DOL provides this example:

Employee B works in data processing for an advertising company headquartered in a large city and teleworks from her home more than 75 miles away. Many of the employees in Employee B’s department telework from different cities and states. All teleworking employees are assigned projects for data analysis from the manager who works at the company headquarters. Employee B’s worksite, for FMLA eligibility determination, is the company’s headquarters. The company’s headquarters is also, under the FMLA, the worksite for the data processors in Employee B’s department who telework from different cities and states but report to and receive assignments from their manager at headquarters. There are 300 total employees who work at or within 75 miles of the company’s headquarters. Thus, the employee is considered to be employed at a worksite where 50 or more employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles of that worksite even though she herself does not work within 75 miles of the company headquarters. 

Let’s try another one that didn’t make the final edit of the Field Assistance Bulletin.

Suppose I’m in Philadelphia with 49 coworkers, all working remotely and receiving their assignments from a Dallas location. We have worked for this company for years and at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 months.

Why we stick with this company is sometimes unclear. By now, we’ve all heard it many times, “How ’bout dem Cowboys, Eric? Just watch. This is the year!” Yeah, ok.

We stay for the good laughs and an above-market 401(k) match.

Well, this Sunday, the NFC team that actually made the Super Bowl stomps the Chiefs (sorry, Andy Reid) and wins it. By Monday, many of us have developed “migraines,” “fibromyalgia,” or something else that doesn’t appear on an MRI. One of our fallen comrades even tried to climb a greased telephone pole in Fishtown and broke her leg.

Guess what? We’re all FMLA eligible because 50 employees working remotely get assignments made in Texas! But don’t cry for us. I suspect our conditions will clear up suddenly after the parade down Broad Street.

What a world! GO BIRDS!!! 🦅🦅🦅

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