New regulations interpreting the Family and Medical Leave Act going into effect on January 16, 2009. These long awaited final regulations include new leave provisions to cover individuals in military service. Notice to employees of their rights under the FMLA must be included in employee handbooks or other written policy materials, and employers need to update their handbooks and manuals to comport with the new regulations.
Changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act are effective on January 1, 2009. Designed to reverse the effect of several U.S. Supreme Court decisions narrowly interpreting the statute, changes to the ADA are intended to expand protections for employees. This will require increased vigilance by employers with respect to defining essential job functions, providing reasonable accommodation and being able to prove undue hardship with respect to a requested accommodation.
This breakfast briefing will include the following topics:
I. Changes to the FMLA regulations
- Employees may take up to 26 weeks of military caregiver leave during a 12 month period
- An employee may take leave because his or her spouse, child or parent is on active duty or has been notified of a call to active duty for reasons such as childcare or financial arrangements
- New notification obligations for both employers and employees
- Broadened definition of FMLA eligibility
- Revised definition of "continuing treatment" for purposes of determining serious health condition
- New leave rights for husbands of pregnant spouses
- New waiver provisions
- New provisions allowing disqualification for certain awards or bonuses if goals are not met due to FMLA leave
- New DOL- recommended form
II. Changes to the ADA
- Mandates liberal (i.e., pro-employee) interpretation of statutory definitions
- Expands definition of "major life activity"
- Impairments can be considered disabling even if controlled or corrected by medication or other mitigating measures
- Impairments can be considered disabling even if only episodically active or in remission
- Expands definition of and protections for persons "regarded as" disabled but not actually disabled