Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Sees Changes

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may undergo a shake up. The United States Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed regulatory changes to the FMLA. The changes, which are 500 pages long and have a 60 day comment period, make significant modifications to the FMLA. A sampling include:

Serious health condition: The definition of “serious health condition” would be substantially revised to require two or more treatments within a 30 day calendar period. In addition, to qualify as a chronic condition, an employee would be required to see a physician for the particular condition at least two times each a year.

Medical Certification: An employee’s burden to provide medical certification would be set higher, which allows an employer to dig deeper into an employee’s medical file, raising privacy concerns.

Notification: The notification period that employers are required to provide would be watered down. Under the proposed changes, employers will be given five days, versus the current requirement of two days, to provide employees with notice of FMLA eligibility.

The changes, which were initiated by President George W. Bush, are not employee friendly. Senator Hillary Clinton’s campaign issued the following Press Release:

The Bush Administration is seeking to make it more difficult for employees to claim paid leave when it is available to them by requiring the employers leave policies to take precedent over the FMLA; requiring employees with chronic health conditions to obtain an annual certification that they are able to do their job or risk being transferred to a different job; allowing employers to communicate directly with medical providers, which raises privacy concerns; and much more. The proposed regulation is 500 pages long.

We will keep you posted on what the 60 day comment period yields.