Family and Medical Leave Act Changes Forcing Employers to Change Policies

Share Article

FMLA Dream Team to Explain Impact of Latest Employee Leave Act Revisions

Already, 2008 has seen major changes in the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). First, President George W. Bush signed into law the first amendments to the FMLA since it was enacted in 1993. The new provisions guarantee leave in certain circumstances to the families of servicemembers who are either on active duty or injured on active duty in the military.

The Department of Labor elected not to issue proposed regulations, choosing to identify and ask for public comments on a number of issues on which regulations may be needed. That is the agency's way of "fast tracking" final regulations for the military leave requirements, which could be issued as soon as May.

Then, a few weeks later, the DOL issued new proposed regulations designed to clarify many of the most troublesome FMLA issues faced by employers trying to comply with its 1995 final regulations, including:

  • A definition of "serious health condition" that is perceived to be overly broad and genuinely confusing
  • Monitoring, tracking, and verifying the legitimacy of intermittent leave
  • Confusing time frames and other criteria for various notices, certifications, and other actions.

In response to these changes, attorneys with the law firms of Fortney & Scott and McGuireWoods will conduct two live 90-minute audio conferences for employers on new compliance obligations, entitled DOL's New Proposed FMLA Regs Explained and New FMLA Leave Rules for Servicemembers' Relatives: What Employers Need to Know. The dream-team presenters for both audio conferences are David S. Fortney and Susan M. Webman, both former high-ranking Labor Department officials, and Rodney A. Satterwhite, who argued one of the first cases interpreting the FMLA in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. These are authorities on the impact FMLA revisions will have on personnel policies nationwide.

"The proposed regs include new notice obligations so that employees will better understand their FMLA rights, and revised employee notice rules to minimize workplace disruptions because of unscheduled FMLA absences. The military caregiver leave rules are already in effect. Employers need to be up on all of these changes
immediately," says David Fortney.

The first audio conference, on March 19 with an encore presentation April 2, will focus on changes to FMLA that specifically address employer confusion about required notices, eligibility, and 6 other administrative requirements.

The second audio conference, on March 31, will explain employee leave rights when providing care to a family member serving in the military. This was signed into law by President Bush on January 28 and is effective immediately.

About the Audio Conference Presenters

Co-founder of Fortney & Scott, LLC and editor of the monthly newsletter Federal Employment Law Insider, David Fortney counsels clients on Family and Medical Leave Act issues. Mr. Fortney previously served as the chief legal officer of the U.S. Department of Labor during the first Bush Administration. As Acting Solicitor of Labor, he was responsible for enforcing more than 140 workplace laws and managing an agency with 800 attorneys and support staff. He advised Secretaries of Labor Elizabeth Dole and Lynn Martin and the DOL agencies on a broad range of legal, policy, legislative, regulatory, and enforcement issues. He has testified before the U.S. Congress three times, most recently on behalf of the national employers' Overtime Coalition in support of DOL issuing revised FLSA white-collar exemption regulations. Mr. Fortney is a frequent lecturer and writer on employment-related
topics, including appearances on CNN and Fox News. He was the co-author of the Military Leave Compliance Kit (2001) and lead author of the Guide to Employee Leave (1997).

Prior to joining Fortney & Scott, Susan M. Webman worked for the Department of Labor where she was the principal drafter for the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). She also coordinated and led the Executive Branch interagency task force and worked with the White House and Congress prior to its enactment. Ms. Webman served as the Counsel for International Affairs/Opinions, for the Division of Labor-Management Laws at the U.S. Department of Labor during the George H. W. Bush and William J. Clinton administrations.

Both Mr. Fortney and Ms. Webman are available for comment by calling 202.689.1200

A contributor to Federal Employment Law Insider, Rodney A. Satterwhite is a partner in the Labor & Employment Department at McGuireWoods LLP, where he has practiced for the last 17 years. His specific areas of practice include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act. He argued one of the first cases interpreting the FMLA in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, addressing an employer's right to continue an employee's disciplinary probation while on protected leave.

Mr. Satterwhite is available for comment by calling 804.775.1000

About the Agenda

The first audio conference, DOL's New Proposed FMLA Regs Explained on March 19 (and April 2), will focus on 8 proposed changes to the law that are currently in the required comment period. These specifically address employer confusion about:

  • Required notices, fitness-for-duty certifications, and designation of leave
  • Eligibility requirements for employees who are jointly employed
  • Inability to work overtime exhausting FMLA leave
  • Light duty
  • Denying bonuses
  • Substituting paid leave for FMLA leave
  • Employer-employee settlement of claims for past leave policy violations
  • Defining a serious health condition

The second live audio conference, New FMLA Leave Rules for Servicemembers' Relatives: What Employers Need to Know, on March 31, will explain employer obligations to employees who provide care to family members serving in the military and other employer requirements based on the January 28, 2008, signing.

About the Program Sponsor

Both of these audio conferences are produced by M. Lee Smith Publishers LLC, for 33 years a leading provider of compliance information to the corporate Human Resources and legal markets. The company's client base includes many of the FORTUNE 500 and also managers in every industry sector.

Contact: Pete McPherson, 615-661-0249, ext. 8057 or

On the Web:
DOL's New Proposed FMLA Regs Explained:

New FMLA Leave Rules for Servicemembers' Relatives: What Employers Need to Know:

For additional FMLA resources, visit

This press release was distributed through eMediawire by Human Resources Marketer (HR Marketer: on behalf of the company listed above.


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Pete McPherson
Visit website