Coming Soon

I stumbled across this today. Evidently, President Bush is expected to sign a bill that enables the first expansion to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) since 1993. This expansion will allow up to 26 weeks for family members to care for military personnel who were wounded in the course of duty. Per usual, the rules are ambiguous at best.

From the article above:

Companies won’t have a problem with the straightforward mandate related to relatives of wounded soldiers, but other provisions are murky, according to attorney Margaret Hart Edwards of Littler Mendelson’s San Francisco office.

For instance, language in the bill allows 12 weeks of unpaid leave for “any qualifying exigency” that arises from a spouse, son, daughter or parent being on active duty or called to active duty.

The appropriate circumstances would have to be determined by Department of Labor regulations. Whether companies can require that an employee certify a relative’s active duty status also is subject to the regulatory process.

Until rules are promulgated, the situation will be ambiguous. “That puts a big burden on employers,” Edwards says. “The opportunities for abuse are substantial.”

I guess I’ve had my head in the leave administration sand as I didn’t know much about this until today. Albeit a good thing for military families, it just sounds like another murky administrative nightmare for us HR folks.

Oh the joys of being overwhelmed.

UPDATE: Maybe I spoke to soon. It seems that President Bush is planning on vetoing the bill (H.R. 1585) that contains the FMLA expansion.

From SHRM:

The White House’s problem with H.R. 1585 centered on lawsuits brought against the Iraqi government and has nothing to do with the FMLA provision. Bush has stated that he supports the leave expansion for families and caregivers of military personnel.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what comes next.

UPDATE 2: The HR Wench tells me that there’s more info to be found here. Thanks!!!

UPDATE 1/29/08: President Bush signed it into law.

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