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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, is urging the Department of Labor (DOL) to help improve the real world application of the “Family and Medical Leave Act” (FMLA) by simplifying regulations used to enforce that law.

“‘The Family and Medical Leave Act’ has proved an important tool to help workers fulfill the often competing demands of work and personal life,” Enzi said. “It’s clear we need to help employers uphold their responsibilities by making simple, practical changes in the regulations that do not diminish individuals’ rights, and do not alter the original intent of Congress. This is especially important for small businesses, which bear an even heavier burden when compensating for employees who must be absent from work.”

The Family Medical Leave Act requires employers to provide employees extended unpaid leave under certain circumstances.


Gillette Human Resource expert speaks to Washington panel

Enzi’s comments came at a roundtable he convened today to help assess the federal government’s success implementing FMLA. He brought together participants from business, the workforce and government for comment and discussion.

Jamie Marsden, Director of Human Resources for the City of Gillette, (see picures) told the panel that the FMLA has been a great benefit to employees but some aspects of the law are difficult to define and interpret.

The roundtable came as the DOL is reviewing regulations for FMLA. Nearly 12 years ago, Congress enacted the bill to assist individuals and families that were faced with serious health issues by providing job-protected unpaid leave of up to 12 weeks for those who qualify.

Among the changes Enzi will suggest DOL consider are: 

- Refining the definition of “serious medical condition” to ensure that FMLA rights are not abused, and that the original intent of Congress is fully implemented;

- Reworking regulations governing the use of “intermittent leave” to ensure an appropriate balance between legitimate health needs of employees and the legitimate staffing and scheduling needs of employers are being met;

- Establishing regulations to provide appropriate and practical procedures for employers to control absences and assess the validity of leave requests.

Enzi will closely monitor the efforts of DOL as it reviews its current FMLA regulations.