Today the Department of Labor published its Final Regulations Implementing the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). They go into effect on January 16, 2009 (60 days after publication).  Click here to download the final FMLA regulations.   (Warning!  The document is 762 pages long!  However, much of that is a handy explanation of the changes and the comments the DOL received.)

The final regulations address many aspects of FMLA, the federal law that provides eligible employees the right to take unpaid leave for certain absences, such as:  the birth or adoption of a child; to care for a child, spouse, or parent with a serious health condition; or because of the employee’s own serious health condition. The final regulations also address new military family leave entitlements enacted as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, which provides leave rights to employees who provide care for covered servicemembers with a serious injury or illness.

Highlights of the final regulations include:

  • Incorporation of new military family leave requirements into the regulations, with specific guidance on administering military leave
  • Clarification on administering intermittent leave, including an explanation of when an employee may be transferred during intermittent or reduced schedule leave
  • Clarification on employee eligibility following breaks in employment such as extended leaves
  • Clarification on what constitutes a "serious health condition," including revised definitions of "incapacity" and "continuing treatment"
  • Clearer guidelines for administering pregnancy and childbirth leaves
  • Consolidated guidelines on adoption leave
  • Clarification of how to count holidays in cases where an employee takes leave in increments of less than a full workweek.
  • Clarification on administering leave to care for a parent
  • A new requirement that when an employee gives less than 30 days’ notice of a foreseeable leave, the employee must explain the reason for failing to give 30 days’ notice
  • An explanation of how much information an employer can obtain in the medical certification to substantiate the existence of a serious health condition and the employee’s need for leave due to the condition

There are many more minor changes, too many to list in a single blog post.  To get the full picture, download the final regulations