FMLA Update: DOL Releases Two-Part Regulations Helpful for Military Families, Harmful for Other Workers and Their Families
On November 17, 2008, with just 66 days left in office and in the midst of an unprecedented economic meltdown, the Bush Administration’s Department of Labor released its new two-part final Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) regulations. The FMLA is the only federal law specifically targeted to giving workers the time they need to care for their families. It provides qualified workers with 12 weeks of unpaid leave to recover from their own serious health condition, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or to bond with a new child.
New Military Leave Provisions Implement Landmark FMLA Expansion
First, there is good news for servicemembers, their families, and all of us who support them. The Department of Labor (DOL) took many of our coalition’s specific recommendations for how to expand FMLA coverage for military families, since the recent law passed by Congress did not include those details. Military families now will have a clear path to access the leave they need to care for wounded service members and to take care of their families while the service member is deployed. In addition, DOL limited some of its anti-worker recommendations because of all the comments it received from workers and their advocates.
Additional Regulations Released Restrict Workers’ Access to FMLA
While the military leave regulations are a positive step for servicemembers and their families, the second part of the new regulations released contain provisions that restrict workers’ FMLA rights. Despite strong opposition by workers; advocates for women, children, and families; and members of Congress and a complete lack of data to support the need for any changes — the DOL has effectively made it harder for employees to take FMLA leave.
Under the new regulations:
- Employers will have more direct access to the health care providers and health information of workers and their family members—jeopardizing workers’ medical privacy.
- Workers will have less time to give notice of their need for leave while employers get more time to let them know whether the request for leave has been approved—making it harder for workers to access FMLA leave.
- Workers will have more requirements regarding fitness for duty requirements, and procedures for requesting FMLA leave—which will make it easier for employers to delay or deny FMLA leave.
- It will be more difficult for workers to use their paid leave (such as paid vacation) while on FMLA leave—making it impossible for some workers to take FMLA leave at all.
Workers have used the FMLA more than 100 million times to take the leave they needed without putting their jobs at risk. Especially in the current economic crisis, the Bush Administration should be acting to protect workers and their jobs, not making it more difficult to take the leave they need. These FMLA regulations move our country in the wrong direction. We look to our new leaders to undo the damage caused by these harmful regulations, as well as to expand the FMLA.
Click Here to Take Action
>>Overview of the FMLA Regulations
>>Overview of the Military FMLA Regulations
>>National Partnership group comments on proposed regulations
>>National Partnership group comments on military expansion
>>National Partnership summary of proposed regulations
>>National Partnership summary of proposed military expansion
>>Full text of the proposed regulations
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