On November 17, 2008, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) issued highly anticipated revisions to the 1995 regulations interpreting the 15-year-old Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq. The new regulations also clarify the first-ever amendments to the FMLA, which President George W. Bush signed into law in January 2008, granting additional leave entitlements to military family members. According to the DOL, the new final rule is designed to improve communication between employers and employees to make the law operate more smoothly and provide clarity for everyone regarding their rights and responsibilities under the Act.
There are a number of issues addressed in the new regulations that should simplify things for employers grappling with the FMLA. Among other things, the regulations clarify responsibilities regarding medical certifications, definitions of what is considered a serious health condition, employees obligation not to disrupt the employers business when taking intermittent leave, and responsibilities for military family leave. The regulations also make clear that employees can voluntarily settle FMLA claims without court or DOL approval. At the same time, the new regulations have more stringent notice and communication requirements for employers. To assist all parties, the DOL has developed several new certification and notice forms used by employers in the FMLA process.
In this Emerging Issues Analysis, Darrell VanDeusen and Kelly Hoelzer of Kollman & Saucier, P.A., discuss the changes to the regulations.
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