DOL Acknowledges Problems with FMLA, But Backs Away from New Rules
July 6, 2007
In its seemingly never ending review and consideration, last week the federal Department of Labor released the results of its survey of employer opinion on problems with its Family and Medical Leave Act rules. DOL solicited employers’ views on the rules, with the anticipated result being an attempt to amend the regulations to address shortcomings. As anticipated, DOL received a large number of comments from employers. The agency acknowledged that for employers, the overwhelming problem faced under the current rules involves use of intermittent leave. Employers complained that the standards for medical certification of intermittent leave were inadequate, and that some employees use intermittent leave to take time away from work without advance notification or apparent medical need.
Other comments noted overall problems with the FMLA medical certification process, and difficulty analyzing and understanding the overlap between the FMLA and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Although DOL acknowledged problems in these areas, it made no commitment to address these issues through changes to the FMLA rules. Previous attempts to correct the regulations prompted complaints from labor groups, and led to Congressional pressure not to take steps viewed as weakening employees’ rights under the law. The new report may provide DOL with business community support for regulatory reform, but no relief for employers appears imminent. The full FMLA report can be found at www.dol.gov/esa/whd.