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New FMLA Regulations Take Effect January 2009: Employers Must Act Quickly to Prepare for Change

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November 25, 2008

On November 17, 2008, the U.S. Department of Labor published its long-awaited final regulations interpreting the Family and Medical Leave Act.  The new rules become effective 60 days after publication – i.e., on January 16, 2009.  Serving as the first substantial changes to the regulations since the FMLA became law 15 years ago, the new regulations will significantly impact the manner in which employers administer the FMLA.

The new rules serve two primary purposes:  1) to implement new FMLA leave available to military family members; and 2) to provide greater clarity on several regulations, many of which have agonized employers and employees alike.  Although these new regulations provide employers much-needed guidance in administering FMLA leave and offer them additional weapons to combat FMLA abuse, they do not directly address the area employers largely consider the most challenging—intermittent leave.  As a result, this type of leave will continue to plague employers long after these new rules take effect.

The firm has prepared an executive summary of the key changes in the new rules, which can be downloaded here.

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