202007.160

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR ANNOUNCES ENHANCEMENTS TO ASSIST EMPLOYEES, EMPLOYERS AND OTHER STAKEHOLDERS IN USE OF FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE

Today the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) announced significant steps to streamline optional-use forms that workers can use to request, and employers can use to coordinate leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Cheryl Stanton, the WHD administrator, stated that “The improvements we announced today reflect the ongoing commitment of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division to support workers’ families and those who employ them at a time when they need it most.”

The WHD’s new forms include more questions that users can answer by checking a response box and now feature an electronic signature to reduce physical contact and help mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission. These revisions were influenced by substantial public input and will hopefully reduce the time users spend providing information, as well as improve communications between leave applicants and administrators.

In general, the FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take up to a total of 12 workweeks of job-protected, unpaid leave, or to substitute accrued paid leave, during a 12-month period for the following reasons:

  • The birth of the employee’s child;
  • The placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care;
  • To care for the newborn or newly-placed child;
  • To care for the employee’s spouse, parent, son, or daughter with a serious health condition;
  • When the employee is unable to work due to the employee’s own serious health condition; or
  • For any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a military member on covered activity duty.

The new Families Care First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which ensures that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and taking appropriate precautions by way of health and safety measures, includes temporary amendments to the FMLA. This expanded family and medical leave entitlement became effective April 1, 2020 and will expire on December 31, 2020.

The Department of Labor (DOL) is also seeking information from the public regarding the regulations implementing the FMLA. This Request for Information (RFI) will enable the DOL to gather information concerning the effectiveness of the current regulations. The current RFI does not include comment on the FMLA protections under the FCRA. Current information about the FCRA can be accessed here. If interested, you can submit comments on the Federal eRulemaking Portal. All comment submissions must include the agency name and Regulatory Information Number (RIN 1235-AA30) for this RFI.