Building an Economy that Works for Everyone

Changes Proposed to Federal Family Leave Act

The Labor Department announced proposed changes to regulations governing the Family and Medical Leave Act. If approved, the changes would be the first in more than a decade to regulations that give workers unpaid leave to deal with family or medical emergencies.

The Seattle Times/AP article doesn’t give many details:

While refusing to outline the changes, Assistant Labor Secretary Victoria A. Lipnic said the proposed regulations will not reduce the number of people today who can take advantage of FMLA leaves. “People who are currently eligible under this law do not lose their eligibility,” she said.

It’s good to have that verbal reassurance – but it is more comforting to know that Washington State’s 2005 Family Leave Act already protects workers from any federal tinkering with eligibility rules by codifying the existing federal Family Leave Act as Washington law.

The New York Times reveals a bit more:

Under the proposals, workers would generally have to call in to request a leave before taking it; currently, employees can take off for two days before requesting a leave. There will be exceptions for extenuating circumstances, like when a worker is too ill to call in.

The proposed regulations would [also] allow companies to require doctors to recertify annually that a worker has a serious health condition. Under current rules, doctors can provide a multiyear certification that a worker has a serious condition.

The Labor Department hasn’t released the text of the changes. The proposed regulations have been sent to the Office of Management and Budget for approval, and are slated to be published in the next few weeks. The public will have 60 days to comment.

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