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Proposed Changes to FMLA

In 2001, two amendments to FMLA with very different outcomes were introduced in Congress. The Right Start Act is designed to expand FMLA by including employers with 25 or more employees instead of the current 50. It would also offer employees 24 extra hours of leave per year to visit their children’s school (for parent-teacher conferences or literacy programs, for example). A quite different measure, the Family Leave Clarification Act, would toughen the rules on what constitutes a “serious illness” and set the minimum increment of leave time to one half-day. Both of these bills were pending action in early 2002, and each has strong supporters and opponents.

Employers and employees should work together as much as possible, but they also need to know enough of the regulations to avoid making an inadvertent mistake. Organizations such as the U. S. Department of Labor, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Society for Human Resource management can provide useful information. Employers that seek legal counsel would do well to remember that for a subject this complex it makes sense to look for attorneys or firms who specialize in employment law.

Inside Proposed Changes to FMLA