Human Resources – Proposed Changes to FMLA ‘Protect the Future of a Vital Law’

ALEXANDRIA, Va.- LAWFUEL – Legal Newswire -The world’s largest association devoted to human resource management today said proposed changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) would help ensure that the law is not misused, and guarantee that its benefits are available to employees for decades to come.

“This was landmark legislation from the day of enactment in 1993, yet misuse born of confusion has subjected it to some criticism from employers,” said Susan Meisinger, president and chief executive officer for the Society for Human Resource Management. “These proposed changes protect the future of a vital law. They preserve the balance intended by Congress between employers’ needs for reliable staffing, and employees’ need for time to attend to important family and medical issues.”

One of the most significant changes being proposed by the Department of Labor would clarify the rules regarding intermittent leave. Benefits afforded employees under the FMLA remain secure, including time off for the birth or adoption of a child, to care for a seriously ill family member, or to seek treatment for a serious health condition.

According to a June 2007 report from Labor, the need for clarification was illustrated by a sharp increase in sporadic and unscheduled leave, explained at least in part by the misinterpretation of confusing regulations.

“The FMLA was never intended to turn full-time jobs into part-time jobs,” said Lisa Horn, Health Care Manager for SHRM, referring to employees taking sporadic leave without proper notification to employers. “It was never intended to unfairly burden colleagues forced to cover the unpredictable absences of their co-workers.”

“The proposed changes aren’t perfect, but they help clear-up a confusing and contradictory FMLA regulatory system that can be unworkable for employers and employees alike,” Horn said.

The Department of Labor, with the assistance of SHRM and other organizations, collected and reviewed more than 15,000 comments from employers and employees across the country, and evaluated numerous regulatory actions and congressional hearings before drafting the changes to the FMLA.

SHRM, a leading member of the National Coalition to Protect Family Leave (NCPFL), not only supports these changes, but is also committed to continue working with regulators and lawmakers to protect and improve this critical law for workers and their families.

Representatives of SHRM are testifying this week before three different congressional panels addressing a variety of FMLA issues.

For more information on the U.S. Department of Labor’s proposed regulatory changes to the FMLA Act of 1993, visit http://www.shrm.org/government. For interviews to discuss SHRM’s workplace and legislative priorities, please contact Media Affairs at (703) 535-6356 or (703) 535-6273.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 230,000 individual members, the Society’s mission is both to serve human resource management professionals and to advance the profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM currently has more than 576 affiliated chapters within the United States and members in more than 135 countries. Visit SHRM Online at www.shrm.org.

The National Coalition to Protect Family Leave is a broad-based, non-partisan group of organizations, companies and associations dedicated to protecting the integrity of the Family and Medical Leave Act. Visit NCPFL Online at www.protectfamilyleave.org.

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