The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued its final regulations
clarifying and interpreting significant changes to the Family and
Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993; the changes took effect Jan. 16.
As you probably know, FMLA is the federal law that provides
eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of
job-protected, unpaid leave for absences that, until these recent
changes to FMLA, only stemmed from reasons such as caring for one's
serious health condition or his or her immediate family members or
for the birth or placement of a child.
The final regulations recently have been the subject of
significant discussion following DOL's initial proposed changes to
FMLA in February 2008. Those proposed changes were highlighted in
FMLA," May 2008 issue, page 40.
The new regulations were developed in response to the more than
4,600 public comments received after the proposed regulations were
published and address the passage of military leave provisions in
the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2008,
multiple court decisions invalidating portions of DOL's former
regulations, DOL's 15-year experience enforcing and administering
FMLA, and extensive discussions with various stakeholders.
The final rules are intended to clarify existing provisions and
alleviate the friction between employers and employees that
resulted from previous ambiguities and inconsistencies. Although
only time will tell whether DOL accomplished its objectives in
formulating the final regulations, one thing is clear: Your
obligations as an employer have changed, and you need to be
prepared to address these changes when...
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