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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

When you need time off

Let's say you need time off for medical reasons or to take care of grandma. You will need to know about planned changes to the Family & Medical Leave Act of 1993. That's the federal law that provides workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year to have or adopt a child, recover from a serious illness or care for an immediate family member.

Labor lawyer Mark Zelek at Morgan Lewis& Bockius in Miami, explains the proposed changes to FMLA made by the U.S. Department of Labor on Feb. 11. Labor officials say the regulations, which they want to implement by the end of the year, would make the law more user friendly for companies and employees.
What the changes mean to you depends on whether you’re an employer or an employee.

  • Workers taking time off (intermittently or irregularly) for a chronic medical condition for the first time will be required to treat an FMLA absence like any other absence from work. In non-emergency situations, advance notice will be required using the company’s normal call-in policies.

  • Workers who want time off for serious health conditions will need two visits to a health care provider within a month of the condition's onset. Employers will be able to contact medical providers directly to get clarifications and to check the authenticity of the employee’s documentation.

  • Workers with illnesses lasting an unknown period will have to get medical certification of their condition every year.

  • Employers will not be able to charge FMLA time to employees who come back to work but can only do "light" duty.

  • The Labor Dept. must quickly put into effect a new law granting as much as 26 weeks of FMLA leave to care for an injured or ill military member.

Do you think these changes are in your best interest? If you want to give your comments, you have until April 11. The Labor Department hopes to issue final regulations by the end of the year. Submit comments by clicking here.

Democratic congressional leaders oppose regulatory changes to the employee leave law, but it’s not clear whether they will try to block them. To read more, click here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What would be realistic and humane would be to entirely revamp this policy. The first thing that comes to mind is to separate maternity/paternity leave from this law and make it it's own policy. What if you have a baby and then (god forbid) get a serious illness in the same year? Are you out of luck or what??! I think this country needs to seriously reconsider how we treat our workforce... we need better sick/parental leave acts, and we need more humane standards for vacation time. Two weeks? No wonder people suffer from so much chronic disease in this country. I'm a physician... and I truly believe in the power or relaxation, time off, and how it relates to productivity. The happier we are, the more productive we are. Not that we should go overboard, but I think we need to at least reconsider the ramifications of two weeks holiday a year. (In addition to FMLA).

7:53 AM  

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