New Bulletin: Speak Up to Protect FMLA

March 4, 2008: Once again, employers are pushing to make it harder for workers to take time off under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

On February 11, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued proposals for new rules that would open loopholes for employers to deny leave to workers who need to take time for an illness or to take care of a family member.

These proposed rules are still under consideration. Now is the time for working Teamsters to speak up to preserve our FMLA rights. Click here to download bulletin you can post to let other Teamsters know about the proposed changes.

Currently, an employee must give the employer verbal notice of why they are taking leave, and how long they expect to be out.

Under the new rules, an employee would have to tell the employer:

  • Why they are taking leave and how long they expect to be out;
  • That they cannot perform their job functions or that a family member cannot perform his or her daily activities;
  • Whether or not they intend to visit a healthcare provider.

If an employee forgets any one of these magic words, the employer could deny their FMLA leave.

Another rule under consideration would make it harder for workers with chronic health problems—like back pain or asthma—to take intermittent leave.

The new rule would require a detailed back-to-work fitness report from a doctor every thirty days—even if a worker took only one or two days leave in that period. Workers on intermittent leave could have to get as many as 12 fitness reports a year.

And under the new fitness report guidelines, the doctor would have to certify that the employee can perform each and every one of a list of job duties set by the employer—another loophole for employers to discipline employees who take leave under the FMLA.

Under the current rules, when a doctor’s note is required, the doctor only has to give a simple statement that the employee is able to return to work.

Working Teamsters can help stop employers from watering down the FMLA.

The Department of Labor is accepting comments on the new proposals until April 11 on their website. Click here to submit a comment to the US Department of Labor.

Help spread the word. Click here to download a flyer you can post and distribute to other Teamsters.

Sample Comment

I am writing to comment on the new FMLA proposals that are currently under consideration as final regulations. I am a covered employee under the FMLA, and I am concerned that the new regulations will make it more difficult for me to take qualified leave.

Two new proposed regulations would make it harder for employees to exercise their right to leave under the FMLA.

The new regulations under sections 29 CFR Sections 825.302(b) and 303(b) are too technical and detailed, and could give employers an opportunity to make an excuse to deny leave to workers that qualify for the leave, by requiring employees to say the “magic words” to properly notify employers of their leave.

The proposed Section 310(g) would also make it harder for workers to use the leave to which they are entitled. By requiring a fitness report for even one day off work, this new rule would make it harder for workers who suffer from chronic ailments to take intermittent leave.

I urge you to re-consider these regulations.

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