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8 New FMLA Changes You Need to Know

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Jessica Miller-Merrell, blogging4jobs

Several new changes to the Family Medical Leave Act went into effect last week on March 8. The most pertinent is the requirement to post the updated FMLA poster, which informs employees of the updated FMLA rules. There are also several forms that have been updated and are available on the Department of Labor website. 

The other major amendments that took effect on March 8 pertain to military family leave. Here are some of the most note-worthy changes:

  • Service members who are covered have more options for choosing a physician to verify they have a serious illness or injury. Before this amendment was made, service members were required to use a physician from the military healthcare system (Department of Defense, the Veterans Administration, or TRICARE). Under the new rule, any doctor who authorizes other FMLA serious conditions can also authorize conditions for covered service members. 
  • Eligible employees who are the spouse, son, daughter, or parent of a military member may take up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave during any 12-month period to address the most common issues that arise when a military member is deployed to a foreign country, such as attending military sponsored functions, making appropriate financial and legal arrangements, and arranging for alternative childcare. This provision applies to the families of members of both the active duty and reserve components of the Armed Forces.
  • An eligible family member can now take up to 15 days of Rest and Recuperation leave if he or she has a qualifying exigency reason, whereas they could only take five before.
  • The definition of a serious injury or illness for a military caregiver leave has been formalized. 
  • There are now four definitions of serious injury or illness of a covered veteran and only one of the definitions must be met. 
  • An employee can take exigency leave to care for a servicemember’s parent. Prior to this amendment, leave could be granted only to care for a servicemember’s spouse, son, or daughter. The parent being cared for must be incapable of self-care and the employee can’t be the parent’s primary caregiver but can take time to provide for urgent needs caused by the service-member’s active duty or call to active duty.

There are also several changes that aren't related to military personnel and their families, such as:

  • Employees on intermittent FMLA only have to use the amount of leave time necessary and must be allowed to count intermittent FMLA leave in one-hour increments or in the smallest increments used by their employer to track other types of leave. 
  • The Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act established a special FMLA hours of service eligibility requirement for airline flight crew members, such as airline pilots and flight attendants, based on the unique scheduling requirements of the airline industry. Under the amendment, an airline flight crew employee will meet the FMLA hours of service eligibility requirement if he or she has worked or been paid for not less than 60 percent of the applicable total monthly guarantee and has worked or been paid for not less than 504 hours during the previous 12 months.

For more information about the new changes to FMLA, visit the Department of Labor website. 

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s an author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @blogging4jobs. 

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