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FMLA Reform

July 26, 2001
Related Topics: Miscellaneous Legal Issues, Featured Article
Bills include:

Right Start Act of 2001(S.18/H.R.265)

Family and Medical LeaveClarification Act 2001 (S. 489)


Right Start Act of 2001

    TheRight Start Act of 2001 (S. 18/H.R. 265), introduced by Sen. Daschle (D-SD)and Rep. DeLauro (D-CT), contains several measures that would expand the Familyand Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The bill would expand the FMLA to cover employerswith 25 or more employees. (The current employee minimum is 50.) It would offerFMLA-eligible employees 24 hours of additional leave each year to participatein an academic activity of their children's school, such as a parent-teacherconference or a family literacy program.

    The bill wouldprovide employees FMLA leave to address domestic violence and its effects orto care for a parent or child that is addressing domestic violence and its effects.It also would create an employer-provided child-care tax credit equal to 25percent of total qualified child-care expenses and 10 percent of resource andreferral expenditures.

    Sen.Daschle introduced S. 18 along with 18 cosponsors and the bill was sent to theCommittee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Rep. DeLauro (D-CT) introducedH.R. 265 in the House along with 14 cosponsors and the bill was sent to therelevant committees of jurisdiction.

    Loweringthe coverage threshold of the FMLA will expand the law's reach to employerswith 25-49 employees. These small employers will likely face staffing, scheduling,and work production challenges, as their employees may be eligible for increasedtime away from work.

    Offering additionaltime off to attend to children's educational needs and other care follows somesimilar state efforts to offer employees additional time off. This would expandemployers' existing FMLA administration obligations. At the same time, it couldmore positively impact the workforce by setting aside specific time to meetthese needs instead of forcing employees to use other time off or be creativewhen employer policies do not offer any applicable time off option.

To Learn More


Family and Medical LeaveClarification Act 2001

    The Family and Medical Leave Clarification Act (FMLC)proposes to amend the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) to narrowthe definition of a serious health condition, change administration of intermittentleaves, amend request for leave provisions around timing and substitution ofpaid leave.

    The FMLC would exclude short-term illnesses, injuries,impairments, or conditions for which treatment and recovery are very brief fromthe "serious health condition" definition. The legislation includesexamples of short-term conditions that would qualify as serious health conditions,provided the employee receives inpatient care or continuing treatment as providedby the FMLA.

    The FMLC would allow employers to request certificationfrom a health care provider after each intermittent leave occurrence and requireemployees to take intermittent leave in ½ day increments. It also addresseshow employers would manage requests for intermittent leave from employees whoregularly travel for work.

    The FMLC would allow employers to require employeesto request FMLA leave in a timely manner if the employers do not require employeesto substitute other paid leave for FMLA leave. Employers could deny leave toemployees who do not submit timely leave requests. Also, the bill addressesthe timeliness of requests for foreseeable and unforeseeable leaves.

    Finally, the FMLC would amend the FMLA provisions onsubstitution of paid leave to allow employers who provide paid absence to requireemployees to choose between paid and unpaid leave available under FMLA.

    The FMLC was introduced by Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH)on March 8 and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.A companion bill has not been introduced in the House.

    With two FMLA expansion bills pending, this legislationrepresents the other side of the debate on how to better tailor the law to meetemployer and employee needs. The FMLC restrictions on use of FMLA offer employersgreater control over the workforce for staffing and operations purposes andmight reduce the amount of FMLA leave taken by employees.

    Nonetheless, it seems that these proposed changes toFMLA will not ease leave tracking and administration burdens-the rules willchange, but employers will still have to play the game.

To Learn More

  • Viewthis bill. Enter the bill number, for example "S.489," under "Search by billnumber."
  • A pressrelease by a sponsor

SOURCE: HewittAssociates LLC

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