U.S. Department of Labor proposing improvements to FMLA.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) may accelerate its schedule for comments on ways to improve the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to reduce administrative burdens on employers. DOL said it may seek comments on improving the FMLA as early as December. It was originally scheduled for April 2020. This is a follow-on to efforts initiated earlier in the year to simplify the forms needed to apply for and approve a medical leave under the FMLA. The forms proposal is still in its comments period.

Areas of modification have not yet been indicated by the DOL. However, lobbyists are most actively pushing for:

  • Tightening of loopholes that enable workers to use the intermittent leave policy to convert their full-time jobs into permanent part-time jobs
  • Employer access to physicians to determine the extent of serious health conditions and the frequency and duration of absences
  • Conditions under which second and third medical opinions are warranted

Implications for Workforce Planning

The FMLA continues to raise more questions than most other employment regulations. Simplification of language and process is needed by employers and workers. As no details have yet been released, it is too soon to determine the implications of the proposed changes to FMLA. More will be posted as details become available.