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How will the Pending FMLA Changes Affect Your Business?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has recently been amended to better define terms applied to military families and airline employees. These changes instituted by the Department of Labor are also supplemented by a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to implement and interpret the additions to the act.

Eligible employees of FMLA-covered employers receive rights to take unpaid, job-protected leave for family and medical reasons which are defined through the act. Some examples of FMLA leave include caring for a child after birth or adoption, caring for a family member with a serious health condition or being unable to work due to a personal health condition or injury.

In 2008, military caregiver leave was amended to allow family members or spouses of servicemembers from the National Guard, Reserves or Regular Armed Forces to take 26 weeks off to care for the injured or ill.

In terms of the Military Family Leave provisions, employee leave is now covered to care for veterans who have a serious injury or illness. The veteran must have served in the armed forces within the five preceding years. A caregiver may also take leave to attend to a servicemember or covered veteran’s preexisting injury or illness that was aggravated in the line of duty.

In order to accommodate airline flight crew employees, specific provisions were added to calculate the amount of FMLA leave time. Airline flight crew amendments propose a special minimum of hours of eligibility for FMLA leave. To determine eligibility, airline employees must meet a new threshold of 60 percent of the applicable total monthly guarantee and 504 hours during the 12 months prior to FMLA leave.

Your business will now be required to adjust the way FMLA leave is calculated in terms of payroll. According to the new change, companies will be required to track FMLA leave in the shortest time blocks their payroll systems use to track hours worked. For example, if your payroll system tracks time worked in 15 minute intervals, you’ll be required to track FMLA hours in the same increments. This is how FMLA originally was calculated and administered until 2009. Prior to the new changes, employers could track FMLA in the same process as the business tracked other forms of leave, which is commonly in increments of one hour. This will affect your business’ department that manages payroll and employee benefits.

The human resources department of all FMLA-covered employers should be educated and prepared to calculate and administer FMLA leave once the amendments are passed. Those responsible for overseeing employee benefits for your business should stay up-to-date with the latest information from the Department of Labor.

These changes to FMLA will affect workplace policies, administrative forms and employee communication and posters. You can count on HRdirect as your leading source for the most up-to-date compliance news regarding FMLA regulations.