Lawyers to employer clients: Proceed on new FMLA rules with caution

The ABA Journal reports that new issues may soon arise for employers and their attorneys as a result of revisions to the Family Medical Leave Act.

Under a new law signed last week by President George W. Bush, employees who have family members who fall ill, become injured, or suffer some other “exigency” during active duty in the military can get up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave to care for them.

Even though the new rules are not technically in effect yet – the Department of Labor has to formally adopt regulations reflecting them first – the Labor Department nonetheless is urging employers to follow the spirit of the new law, prompting some law firms to issue guidance to their clients as to what constitutes a qualifying “exigency.”

A newsletter from law firm Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker advises employers to “interpret the term broadly” while attorneys at Littler Mendelson cautioned clients that “[e]mployers should be aware that time off under this new legislation may be in addition to family leave available under state law.”

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