Have you been concerned that the US Department of Labor in an Obama Administration might reverse many of the “employer-friendly” FMLA regulations that took effect in January 2009?  According to the DOL, however, major changes to the regulations is unlikely to happen any time soon.

As first reported by Thompson Publishing, at a DOL stakeholders’ forum held on May 21, 2010, Michael Smythe, chief of the Regulatory Analysis Branch at the DOL, indicated that the DOL’s 2010 regulatory update to the FMLA (which currently is scheduled for November) will focus “narrowly” on:

  1. The qualifying exigency and military caregiver leave amendments; and
  2. The new airline flight crew rules.

These comments appear to reign in earlier statements made in DOL’s semiannual regulatory agenda (pdf), at which time the DOL indicated an interest in reviewing all of the new FMLA regulations, which took effect in January 2009.  These comments left employers wondering whether the DOL would roll back some or all of the perceived “employer-friendly” regulations.

What will the DOL’s FMLA Regulatory update likely cover?

According to the DOL, the regulatory update apparently will be limited to regulations that interpret:

  1. The 2010 Defense Authorization Bill, which expanded the manner in which employees can take leave due to “qualifying exigencies” arising from family members’ military service, and to care for family members injured in the course of military service; and
  2. The Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act, which makes it easier for flight crews to qualify for FMLA leave by changing the manner in which hours of service requirements are met to account for the airline industry’s unique timekeeping methods.

However, the DOL’s position on the FMLA regulatory agenda could change on a moment’s notice, and it does not take into account the number of bills pending in Congress that would considerably expand the reach of the FMLA.  See our earlier post for an update on FMLA-related bills currently pending in Congress and their status.