On March 8, 2013, the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Final Rule implementing the 2010 amendments to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) takes effect. Keep in mind that Final Rules do not change the law, they simply explain it better and, as we all agree, the FMLA could definitely use greater explanation. With the roll out of this Final Rule, the DOL had an opportunity to clean up some issues with its 2008 regulations and to update the Final Rule it issued in 2008 to track the 2010 amendments to the FMLA.
The biggest changes of which you should be aware are that:
- Employees who request qualifying exigency leave to spend time with military members on Rest and Recuperation may now take up to a maximum of 15 calendar days, which is up from the previous five days of leave in the 2008 regulations.
- The DOL has replaced the term “covered military member” with “military member” as members of the National Guard, Reserves, and Regular Armed Forces are all now covered by the amended FMLA.
- Protections for veterans are also laid out in the Final Rule.
- “Active duty” now requires the military member’s deployment to a foreign country.
- The seven categories of care that qualify for exigency leave have been expanded to include parental care leave, so that employees can now take leave to care for parents in the military.
- Pre-existing conditions aggravated by service are now included as qualifying serious injuries or illnesses.
If you updated your handbook to incorporate the 2010 FMLA amendments, you should not need to do anything further at this point, but if you are the cautious type, resting easy at night might be worth a little time with your favorite HK lawyer.
For those who want their information straight from the horse’s mouth (or the DOL, in this case), you can visit the DOL’s website on the Final Rule that contains additional links to helpful information about the Final Rule such as a summary of major provisions, a FAQ list, and fact sheets.