Department of Labor Issues Revised FMLA Regulations

Darrell VanDeusen
Darrell VanDeusen

On the 20th Anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the DOL issued its final regulations on Servicemember FMLA and on Flight Crew eligibility.  There was little outcry about these changes to the regulations.  The changes take effect 30 days from their publication in the February 6, 2013 Federal Register, which republished all of the FMLA regulations,  as well as the changes. You can find them through this link:

The DOL also issued a special FMLA 20th Anniversary report this week, in which the DOL claims that the vast majority of employers find compliance with the FMLA no problem at all.  Really.

Specifically, the study (of 1,812 worksites) found that “employers generally find it easy to comply with the law, and misuse of the FMLA by workers is rare. The vast majority of employers, 91 percent, report that complying with the FMLA has either no noticeable effect or a positive effect on business operations such as employee absenteeism, turnover and morale.

Well, that is the 95/5 rule:  95% of cases take 5% of the time, but 5% of them take up 95% of your time. Or, put differently, it’s like telling someone getting struck by lightning such situation is very rare.  The statement makes no difference to the person who’s been struck by lightning, and even less of a difference if the person has been struck by lightning twice.

The idea behind the FMLA is terrific. And the DOL may be right that basic FMLA requests are really not that difficult to handle (“I need to take 8 weeks off for back surgery and recovery” or “I need to take every Friday off for the next three months to take my mother to chemotherapy appointments”).  Every HR professional knows, however, that those circumstances pale in comparison to how confounding it is to deal with unforeseen leave or “I can come and go as I please” intermittent leave cases.   In those cases, it is nearly impossible to figure out the right answer. The DOL, unfortunately, refuses to recognize that fact.  It is just the cost of doing business in America.


No Comments
prev next
Email Updates

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.