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The FMLA proposal juggernaut continues

While Congress has not recently expanded the FMLA, members of Congress continue to apply pressure for such changes

Posted March 9, 2020

Many years have passed since the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was revised. While many employers wish that it would be changed to make administering unforeseeable intermittent leave easier, members of Congress have other ideas. Since that last revision, the employee leave landscape has seen changes, particularly in the realm of state laws.

The latest entry into the mix is a federal bill introduced by Elizabeth Warren, Jan Schakowsky, and others on February 27. The bill, the Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights Act of 2020 (S 3358/HR 65991) would eliminate the FMLA employee eligibility criterion of having to work 1,250 hours in the 12 months before leave is to begin.

Employers would be given a year before the revisions would be effective.

The bill goes beyond the FMLA. It would also:

  • Require employers with more than 500 workers to compensate existing employees if they hire new employees instead of assigning new work to available, qualified, existing employees.
  • Give part-time workers who have worked at least 500 hours for two consecutive years access to retirement plans if they are offered by their employers to full-time workers.

If all this sounds somewhat familiar, it might be because the bill’s sponsors first unveiled their plans to introduce the measure in December 2019. Currently, the measure is in the hands of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. In fact, similar bills have been seen floating around Congress at least since 2013. But remember, the FMLA floated around Congress for years, too.

Just last month, the House Committee on Education and Labor’s Workforce Protections Subcommittee heard testimony on expanding the FMLA. Alone such actions don’t usually result in any changes, but the more pressure is applied, the greater the chance bills like this could see the light of day.

We’ll maintain a lookout for this and other related developments and keep you in the loop.

This article was written by Darlene M. Clabault, SHRM-CP, PHR, CLMS, of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

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