May 26, 2009

Congress Considers Changing the FMLA -- Again

Two bills were recently introduced in Congress that would amend the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). You can read them both (they're short) by searching for the bill numbers below at http://thomas.loc.gov.

The Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act, H.R. 2132, would expand the FMLA to protect time off to care for a sibling, grandparent, adult child, parent in-law, domestic partner, or same sex spouse with a serious health condition.

The Family and Medical Leave Restoration Act, H.R. 2161, would require the Department of Labor to make a number of changes to the FMLA regulations. The DOL would have to:

  • Repeal a number of the recently issued regulations and replace them with the regulations that were previously in place. The new regulations to be repealed include those dealing with notice requirements, clarifying and authenticating medical certifications, and attendance bonuses, among other things.
  • Revise the new regulation on recertification to provide that recertification may be requested only when the duration of the medical condition indicated on the original certification has expired, or every year. (The new regulation allows recertification every six months.)
  • Change the new definition for a "serious health condition" to remove the requirement that the employee visit a health care provider a certain number of times. The new regulation requires either two visits within 30 days or one visit within seven days of the conditions's onset, with continuing treatment; at least two visits per year are required for chronic conditions. This bill would require only such treatment as the health care provider deems necessary.