Sweeping FMLA Changes Require Quick Action From Employers

On November 17 the Department of Labor revealed the final revisions to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a major overhaul of the law, and the first since its enactment in 1993. To assist employers with navigating the revised regulation and implementing policies as they prepare for it to become law on January 16, 2009, Business & Legal Reports, Inc. (BLR(R)) has launched the BLR FMLA Information Center at www.blr.com/information-fmla.

“The impact of the final FMLA rule cannot be overstated. Employers will need to reconsider all of their leave policies and practices and make significant changes to avoid costly FMLA violations,” said Susan Schoenfeld, J.D., BLR legal editor and FMLA expert. “This will require employers to devote time and resources to understanding the new rules and changing their FMLA leave administration programs. The time employers have to actually make those changes is dangerously short — with only 60 days until the rule becomes effective on January 16.”

FMLA revisions affect the following areas of policy:

— Serious Health Condition

— Intermittent Leave

— Employee and Employer Notice

— Light Duty

— Perfect Attendance Awards

— Medical Certification

— Fitness-for-Duty Certification

— Military Caregiver Leave

— Leave for Qualifying Exigencies for Families of National Guard and


— Revised Forms

What the Revisions Mean for Employers

The Department of Labor says that many of the revisions were designed to clarify the requirements that the FMLA imposes on both employees and employers and to improve communication between the parties.

Schoenfeld states that “since it was first enacted in 1993, employers have really struggled to understand and implement the FMLA in the ‘real world.’ Unlike many other federal employment laws, employers never really reached a comfort level in understanding the FMLA. The new FMLA rule comes with new forms that may assist with recordkeeping; however, the FMLA rule also adds two new types of leave which place extra burden on employers.

“The bottom line,” added Schoenfeld, “is that employers will be significantly impacted by the FMLA changes, especially at first while they struggle to learn and understand the new FMLA requirements.”

Sweeping FMLA Changes Require Quick Action From Employers – MarketWatch.