National Coalition Seeks Clarification of FMLA Regulations

For Immediate Release

Apr 17, 2008
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Employers urge Department of Labor for improvements

Alexandria, Va. – What constitutes a serious health condition? How can an employer administer unscheduled leave in a way that’s fair to all employees? These are some of the questions that a coalition of employers and other organizations want resolved as improvements are made to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management, leads a coalition that has just submitted lengthy comments to the Department of Labor, which is proposing regulatory revisions to the 15-year-old law. More than 100 associations and organizations co-signed the comprehensive comments submitted by the National Coalition to Protect Family Leave (NCPFL). The group is spearheading an effort to clarify the regulations and improve FMLA administration for both employers and employees.

“Although some provisions within the FMLA regulations work well for both employers and employees, HR professionals have struggled to interpret other provisions,” said Lisa Horn, SHRM manager of health care and chair of the NCPFL. “These include intermittent leave, medical certifications, and the definition of a serious health condition. The overriding concern of SHRM members is to ensure that the FMLA regulations strike an appropriate balance between the employer’s business needs, and an employee’s need for time to attend to family and medical issues.

“Although these changes will strengthen the FMLA process for both employers and employees, they do not make enough improvements to some of the most problematic aspects of the current regulations.”

In addition to the coalition efforts, SHRM members recently testified before panels in both the Senate and House that are reviewing the law. The society has also encouraged its members to send their own FMLA comments to the Department of Labor. To date, the department has reviewed more than 700 comments from SHRM members, with more being reviewed and posted daily.

“The original purpose of the FMLA, as envisioned by Congress, will never be fully realized until both the employee and employer communities feel comfortable in their determination that an employee is rightly entitled to FMLA leave,” said Horn. “Unless the department clarifies the FMLA rules, HR professionals will continue to encounter workplace challenges as a result of these complex regulations.”

About the Society for Human Resource Management

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 250,000 members in over 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India. Visit SHRM Online at www.shrm.org.

About the National Coalition to Protect Family Leave

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. To learn more about the coalition, visit www.protectfamilyleave.org

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