Americans with Disabilities Act Handbook

An overview and resource handbook about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
for employers and their HR professionals

Part 6:

Interplay between the ADA and the Family and Medical Leave Act

One complex and difficult issue for employers is the interplay between the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the ADA. The FMLA applies to employers with 50 or more employees. Employers should keep in mind that the leave provided by the FMLA is for serious health conditions which may in some cases cover more minor conditions than a disability as defined under the ADA. Also, leave under the FMLA is limited to 12 weeks (taken continuously, under a reduced schedule, or intermittently), while ADA leave is more generalized to what is reasonable for the employer. Finally, the time provided by the employer under the FMLA can run concurrently with the time provided as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.

Work with your legal counsel to review your policies to ensure that you are compliant with both the ADA and the FMLA. You should use a consistent process when you are considering employment action involving a disabled employee who has been out on leave. The FMLA regulations were significantly amended effective January 2009, and changed to include non-traditional families in the “son or daughter” definitions in 2010. If you have not already done so, you will need to take the time to review your HR policies against the new amended regulations.

Unum and the ADA

As a natural part of our claims handling process, you can expect:

  • Support to align your accommodation policies with ADA regulatory requirements
  • Unum correspondence referring employees to your human resources department if they need accommodations, which helps fulfill your employee interaction requirements
  • Individual return-to-work plans as needed for individuals on claim
  • Financial assistance for those with Long Term Disability Insurance to help pay the cost of modifications under the Worksite Modification Benefit
  • Partnership with the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), which can provide more in-depth, case-specific analysis on possible reasonable accommodations

With our additional ADA Services offering, you can choose the level of service specific to your needs

Companies like yours undoubtedly face a higher number of diverse disability and leave-related needs. It can be difficult to keep up with ADA rules and regulations, and many employers are looking for solutions to enhance their ADA management.

Our ADA Services have been designed to meet varying levels of assistance. Whether you need general information, occasional in-depth consultation, or day-to-day support regarding employee requests for workplace assistance — our service levels build on one another to ensure you get the level of service you need. These services are completely confidential and available to our large customers to add to your disability and leave management coverage.

Unum offers you the unique combination of ADA administrative knowledge, plus years of industry-leading experience in assessing disability, managing claims and administering job-protected leaves. That means we offer broad knowledge about available vocational options that can help keep your employees at work or help them return to work. Unum provides proactive identification of potential opportunities to interact by identifying files nearing FMLA exhaustion. And our ADA Services team can assist in assessing which employees qualify for ADA modifications.

Additional resources available from Unum

While Unum cannot provide legal advice, we want to provide as much informational help as we can. Just ask your Unum representative if you have follow-up questions regarding the information in this handbook. If you have questions about Unum's Leave Management Services, you can contact your Unum representative and request the FMLA Handbook.

In addition, Unum products and services may include additional resources such as HR/BenefitsAnswersNowTM, a web-based library of answers to thousands of benefits questions. The site is organized in a question-and-answer format that's easy to use. Employers can choose from a selection of several monthly newsletters — and access, modify and use hundreds of sample benefit policies and plans.

BenefitsAnswersNowTM is provided by CCH, one of the top information providers in the legal, tax and regulatory markets in the U.S. and Europe.

Contact your Unum representative for more information

Resources and technical assistance

We hope this handbook has given you a helpful overview of the ADA requirements. For more information, consult:


Free information about 40,000 adaptive devices for all disabilities.

ADA National Network

Ten federally-funded regional centers providing information, materials, technical assistance and training on the ADA.

Americans with Disabilities Act Document Center

An award-winning, comprehensive collection of ADA documents produced by federal agencies; includes regulations, tech sheets, technical assistance manuals and the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

Council of State Administration for Vocational Rehabilitation

Provides information about the agency in your state that provides employment assistance to people with disabilities.

Department of Justice


Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers

Centers provide technical ADA assistance and training to state and local governments and private businesses.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Offers "Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 — EEOC Technical Assistance Manual" and

A commercial national employment and social networking web-based portal that connects and serves disabled job seekers, employers, advocacy organizations and service providers. Exceeding Rehabilitation Act section 508 standards, the portal enables maximum access regardless of disability type and severity.

Job Accommodation Network

Sponsored by the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. Information about devices, job or building modifications and workplace redesign.