The Ins and Outs: FMLA , ADA, and Worker’s Compensation

New to HR and having passed my professional in human resource (PHR) exam, I thought I knew everything about FMLA, ADA and worker’s compensation. Wasn’t I, an expert? After all, I have 10+ years’ experience in management, a master’s degree in human resource management, and am a certified professional in human resources. Absolutely NOT!

After attending a refresher course on FMLA, ADA and workers compensation, I realized that there were a number of things I either A. Had forgotten, B. Never knew of, and C. Knew of, but never really discussed how the three affected organizations with my clients. So with that, I’d like to share a few tips concerning FMLA, ADA and worker’s compensation that every business owner should be aware of.

  • Both ADA and FMLA are laws administered at the federal level while worker’s compensation is administered at the state level
  • Keep in mind, worker’s compensation is designed for employees to receive compensation while out of work due to a workplace injury
  • Under worker’s compensation most states  require employers who have at least one employee to provide worker’s compensation, while Florida requires private employers with at least 4 or more employees to obtain worker’s compensation and those employed by the state or in construction with at least 1 employee, must provide worker’s compensation
    • With worker’s compensation most of the time you are dealing with FMLA
      • You can run the two concurrently
      • Once FMLA is exhausted worker’s compensation does not provide job protection; however, the employee maybe covered under ADA
      • EEOC states you cannot auto terminate, even if more than 12 weeks have been used under FMLA. You must find out if any accommodation can be made
  • If an injury results in a qualified disability you must engage in the interactive process, document the process and the accommodation
  • FMLA applies to those employers with at least 50  or more employees  at one location
    • Employers are required to provide at least 12 weeks of unpaid leave
    • In-laws are not covered
    • Employee must work 12 months, 1250 hours prior to the serious injury to qualify
    • Part-timers are counted towards the 50 employees  (keep in mind there are exceptions)
    • Examples of serious illness: mild hernia, chicken pox, and most mental disorders
    • Send FMLA notices when the employee goes out on worker’s compensation leave to properly account for absences.  Document! Document! Document!
    • When an organization has more than one location, please take caution when allowing everyone to be covered under FMLA. Remember the law states that there is a 75 mile radius between locations and the company’s headquarters  for FMLA to apply. Let’s say you have location A. and location B is located 80 miles away with only 25 employees, FMLA does not apply. However, if you wish to provide FMLA  to all employees, make sure that you add an amendment to your company’s handbook stating your organization is providing the same benefits and specify it is not FMLA leave.
    • ADA applies to those employers with at least 15 employees 
      • It is a federal law that prevents employers from discriminating against those with disabilities.
      • The law doesn’t require compensation, only reasonable accommodation.
      • Keep in mind under the amendment to the law, under ADA not too many individuals aren’t covered.
      • Example of an ADA, hearing impaired (keep in mind this is not covered under FMLA).
      • ADA does not differentiate between work related and non-work related disabilities.
      • Always follow your organization’s leave of absence policy.
      • Don’t assume that just because, you have fulfilled obligations under one law, that it satisfies obligations under another.


I can go on and on about this topic, but in the end, the take away for me is that you’re never too young (lol) to learn anything, don’t think you know it all because of your credentials, be open to learning and most importantly SHARE your knowledge.

If you have any questions regarding FMLA, ADA or worker’s compensation,  please feel free to contact us or consult with your organization’s HR business partner or council.



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