FMLA Revisions Affect Employer & Employee Responsibilities

The revisions to the Family Medical Leave Act, which become effective on Jan. 16, 2009, place increased notice obligations on employers so that employees will better understand their FMLA rights. The final rule consolidates the employer notice requirements into one section to clear up conflicting provisions.

The revised regulations are clearer about when leave can be denied because information wasn't provided or procedures weren't followed. The original regulations allowed employers to "delay" taking leave in some cases when sufficient information was not provided. The revised regulations use phrases such as "leave may be denied" if an employee fails to explain the reasons for leave. For example, the revised regulations clarify that calling in "sick" without providing more information is not sufficient notice of the need for FMLA leave.

While employees may be held to a higher standard for providing medical certifications or other information, the employer must have given appropriate notice to employees of their expectations, and the consequences for failing to meet those obligations. For more information, visit www.dol.gov/esa/whd/fmla/.

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