- The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is seeking comments on proposed revisions to the optional forms used in administering the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The 60-day public comment period ends Oct. 4.
- The proposed revisions include: questions replaced by statements that can be verified by checking a box; "reorganization of medical certification forms to more quickly determine if a medical condition is a serious health condition as defined by the FMLA"; "clarifications to reduce the demand on health care providers for follow-up information"; "more information on the notification forms to better communicate specific information about leave conditions to employees"; "changes to the qualifying exigency certification form to provide clarity to employees about what information is required"; "changes to the military caregiver leave forms to improve consistency and ease of use"; and "layout and style changes to reduce blank space and improve readability."
- The Labor Department has noted that it is particularly interested in comments that evaluate whether the proposed collection of information will have practical utility; comments that "enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected"; comments that evaluate "the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used"; and comments that "minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond," including permitting electronic submissions of responses.
Earlier this year, DOL announced plans to review the regulations accompanying the FMLA. Experts had predicted that, as part of the changes, the agency was looking at ways to make the forms easier to use, including reducing the demand that completing the forms places on busy medical professionals.
When asked at a recent Disability Management Employer Coalition webinar, "New Year's Resolution — Master the FMLA Forms," what they found to be most challenging about administering the FMLA, 46.7% of employers said the process ("doing everything I need to do") gave them the most trouble, while about 30% said deciphering medical certification information presented the biggest challenge, and 16% found adhering to the requirements in a timely manner to be the most difficult.
Helen Applewhaite, branch chief, branch of FMLA and other labor standards at DOL's Wage and Hour Division, offered tips for completing the forms. She recommended that HR professionals learn to think like DOL when it comes to evaluating medical certifications and suggested that those involved in leave administration pay close attention to deadlines.