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May 12, 2009
Bill Would Nullify New FMLA Rules, Another Would Expand Coverage

A lawmaker has introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that would repeal new Family Medical Leave Act rules and make other changes.

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The Family and Medical Leave Restoration Act (HR 2161) would repeal regulations that went into effect on January 16, 2009. The new rules, which the Department of Labor first published November 17, 2008, cover several aspects of the FMLA and address new military family leave entitlements for employees. The new FMLA regulations have brought a host of changes for both employers and employees.

The Family and Medical Leave Restoration Act would also amend FMLA regulations to state that employers may require recertification of a medical condition no earlier than:

  • The expiration of the length of time indicated in the original certification of the medical condition; or
  • 1 year after obtaining the original certification for a medical condition, if the original certification indicated that the condition would last longer than 1 year.

In addition, the legislation would remove the requirements for a specific number of periodic visits for treatment by a health care provider in order to qualify for leave for a serious health condition or chronic condition and to require only the treatment that the healthcare provider determines proper.

The legislation also includes a provision that would require the Department of Labor to revise medical certification form templates to permit healthcare providers to make the determination of whether a medical condition qualifies as a serious health condition under FMLA.

Another piece of legislation (HR 2132) introduced recently would expand the list of family members with a serious health condition for whom an eligible employee may take FMLA leave. The legislation would amend the FMLA allow leave to care for a same-sex spouse, domestic partner, parent-in-law, adult child, sibling, or grandparent who has a serious health condition. While federal law doesn't recognize same-sex marriage, five states do (Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont).

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