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Changes to Family and Medical Leave Act Clarify Employer Responsibilities

SUNRISE, Fla., April 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Applying the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has confused employers and human resources departments across the country. A recent change and several proposed amendments to the Act have expanded the program to military families, and will clarify application of the Act in both civilian and military situations.

Under current FMLA guidelines, U.S. employers must grant eligible employees up to a total of 12 work weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:

-- the birth and care of the employee's newborn child

-- the placement of an adopted or foster child with the employee

-- to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition

-- as medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of their

own serious health condition

The Department of Labor (DOL) and Congress recently took two important actions affecting the current FMLA rules:

1. New FMLA changes enacted by Congress create special leave rights for

military families.

2. The DOL issued proposed changes to the FMLA that focus on improving

troublesome areas of FMLA administration.

Military Family Changes

In January 2008, President Bush signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which contained an addition to the FMLA, providing up to 26 weeks of leave for military families. "Employees who are the immediate family member of active duty service members can use up to 26 weeks of leave to care for an injured service member or 12 weeks if they have a loved one who has reported for active duty," said Ashley Kaplan, compliance attorney for G.Neil, a leading provider of human resources and employment law compliance products.

Employers will be required to display an updated posting including the latest military family leave rights under the FMLA along with a description of employees' rights under the law. "Employers should also dedicate a section of their employee handbook to address the new FMLA rules," adds Kaplan.

Clarifications to the Current FMLA Guidelines

The DOL published proposed changes to the FMLA in February of 2008. One proposed change addresses sections of the Act that have been causing confusion in the workplace.

The proposal would change the medical certification process to reduce vague medical standards and address ineligible FMLA use. It would also require employees to provide practical FMLA leave notice to their employers.

Serious Health Condition Clarified

The definition of "serious health condition" under the law is the basis for much of the confusion surrounding FMLA rules. Companies struggle to decide whether an employee's illness falls under the definition. Some unethical employees have taken advantage of the vague definition, using it to cover up absentee issues, while unethical employers have denied legitimate claims based upon their own narrow interpretation of the FMLA guidelines. Proposed changes would better explain the terms, theoretically protecting both employers and employees.

Other proposed FMLA changes include issues of workplace size, second and third medical opinions, excluded illnesses, duration and timing of illness and recertification for ongoing health issues.

Through April 11, 2008, the DOL was accepting comments on their website regarding the FMLA and the proposed changes to the law.

About G.Neil

A member of the Better Business Bureau, G.Neil, with 20 years experience, is the nation's leading provider of human resources products and solutions to help businesses manage employees and maintain employment law compliance. Poster Guard Compliance Protection, an annual subscription service offered by G.Neil, guarantees businesses are up-to-date with labor law posting requirements. For more information or to request a catalog, call toll-free 1-800-999-9111 or visit


Ashley Kaplan, Compliance Attorney

phone: 954 514 2311

This release was issued through eReleases(TM). For more information, visit

SOURCE G.Neil Corp.
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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