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How will the Pending FMLA Changes Affect Your Business?

How will the Pending FMLA Changes Affect Your Business?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has been under an amendment period 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 explain the act’s new additions. The DOL has extended the comment period for the proposed ruling and our compliance experts are researching and waiting for the new changes to take effect.  The new version is expected to be finalized by the end of the 2012 calendar year. When the changes are rolled out, they will affect nearly every business’ workplace policies, FMLA forms, and labor law posters.

More specifically, Military Family Leave provisions have been amended to better define caregiver leave. Employees are covered to take FMLA time off and care for war veterans who have a serious injury or illness. The veteran must have served in the armed forces within the five preceding years up to when the employee takes leave.  Another reason a caregiver may take leave is to attend to a service member or covered veteran’s preexisting injury or illness that was aggravated in the line of duty.

The way FMLA leave time is calculated for airline flight crew employees is also stated in the recent FMLA amendments. Specific provisions require a special minimum of hours worked to be eligible for FMLA leave. It was determined that certain hours were not being considered ‘hours worked’ such as hours on standby and hours worked. Airline employees must meet a new hours worked threshold of 60 percent of the applicable total monthly guarantee and 504 working hours during the 12 months prior to FMLA leave.
The new FMLA amendments will also affect the way your business calculates FMLA leave. According to the new change, companies will be required to track FMLA leave in the shortest time segments their payroll systems use to track hours worked. For example, if your payroll system tracks time worked in 30 minute increments, you’ll be required to track FMLA hours in the same time blocks. This tracking system was how FMLA leave was originally calculated and administered until 2009. Between 2009 and today, employers could track FMLA in the same process as the business tracked other forms of leave, which is commonly one hour increments. This will affect the department that manages payroll and employee benefits.

If you are an FMLA-covered employer, ensure your human resources team is educated and prepared to calculate and administer FMLA leave once the amendments are in effect. Sign up for our FMLA E-Mail Alerts to be informed of any developments that may affect your business.