The Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed changes to regulations governing the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to address gray areas in the law. One such issue has been the need to have more concise rules on managing unscheduled intermittent leave. Under the current and proposed rule, employers would define the smallest amount of time that can be tracked using the company’s timekeeping system. Workers would, however, be required to abide by an employer’s call-in procedure for unscheduled leave, except for limited emergencies which then require “after the fact” reporting.

The proposal also makes some changes to the definition of serious health condition and the medical certification process. The impact on the small-business community is limited as the threshold for coverage under the FMLA is 50 employees. Covered employers must allow workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off and a guaranteed equivalent job upon return due to a serious illness, to take care of a seriously ill child, spouse or parent, or for the birth/adoption of a child.

On a related topic, legislation has been proposed to provide for paid FMLA leave and to lower the threshold to 25 employees. While the bills may be the topic of hearings, prospects for passage are unlikely with the present Democrat/Republican split in Congress.

For additional details, contact Stuart Gosswein at