Monday, December 14, 2009

Department of Labor to ReconsiderBush’s Last-Minute FMLA Changes

APWU Web News Article #145-09, Dec. 10, 2009

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced [PDF] Dec. 7 that she is reviewing changes made early this year to regulations governing the Family and Medical Leave Act. The announcement has set off speculation that the Department of Labor will overturn revisions implemented at the very end of the Bush administration.

APWU members may recall that just four days before President Bush left the White House, he implemented several regulatory changes to the FMLA, some of which have caused problems for workers, including postal employees. The APWU was among several workers’ advocacy organizations that fought the imposition of the new rules.

Included among the changes were a narrowing of the definition of a “serious health condition,” requirements for additional medical documentation, requirements that medical evidence be provided more frequently, and permission for employers to contact an employee’s healthcare provider directly, without the employees’ knowledge or permission.

“We hope the Department of Labor will reverse policies that were pushed through just before President Obama took office,” said APWU Legislative & Political Department Director Myke Reid.

APWU President William Burrus wrote to Solis in June, saying that the Bush FMLA rules “weakened the law and made it more difficult for workers to exercise the right the legislation was designed to protect.”

The expected “new” regulations will be developed and published by November, Reid said, and the APWU’s concerns again will be shared with the Department of Labor. “Eleven months may seem like a long time, but notice must be given and a 60-day ‘comment period’ is required. We are optimistic that the subsequent review will work in our favor.”

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