Human Resources News & Insights

FMLA changes: New regs take effect March 8

Key changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act will take effect March 8, according to the Department of Labor. They’ll affect how just about every employer handles FMLA leave.

Here’s a look at the new regs:

FMLA calculation requirements

The DOL decided against requiring companies to track FMLA leave in the smallest increments their payroll systems use to track work time.

The DOL clarified that the increment of FMLA leave time remains the same as the time increment  used by the employer for other types of leave.

Change ‘physical impossibility’ provision

The DOL also changed the rule that allowed employers to delay a worker’s reinstatement from FMLA when it was physically impossible for the employee to return to work in the middle of his or her shift.

Example: If a flight attendant took two hours of FMLA leave due to a migraine and missed his flight, the airline could dock him a full day of FMLA time because it was physically impossible for him to go back to work — because his assigned plane was already airborne.

The DOL says employers were misinterpreting this rule by applying it in circumstances where it’s merely inconvenient for them to reinstate an employee mid-shift.

That won’t happen under the new rules. Delaying a worker’s reinstatement will only be permitted in the most limited circumstances where it’s, in fact, physically impossible to allow a worker to return to work in his/her position — or an equivalent position.

Change military leave provisions

The new rules also make major changes to military family leave, including:

  • Expanding caregiver leave so it can be taken to care for veterans discharged within the past five years
  • Allowing caregiver leave to be taken for a pre-existing injury or illness that was aggravated in the line of duty
  • Extending exigency leave to family members of the Regular Armed forces
  • Requiring that service members be deployed to a foreign country in order for their family members to qualify for exigency leave, and
  • Extending the amount of time an employee can take during a military family member’s “rest and recuperation” period from 5 to 15 days.

The official changes can be found in the Federal Register.

Now that these changes are official, employers need to update FMLA policies and forms.

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