final rules on family and medical leave
By Kellie Lunney
The Office of Personnel and Management Monday issued revisions
to the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 that take effect June
The act provided eligible federal employees with a total of 12
administrative work weeks of unpaid leave annually under the
following conditions: birth of a child and care of a newborn;
adoption or foster care duties; care of spouse, child, or parent
with a serious health condition; or personal serious health
OPM's revisions to the Family and Medical Leave Act include:
- All federal employees are responsible for notifying their
agencies prior to taking medical leave. Employees who are
physically or mentally incapable of notifying their employers on
the day of an emergency can retroactively invoke leave within 2
workdays after returning to work, if they include written
- When possible, employees must provide at least 30 days
notice before taking leave under the act. In emergencies,
employees need to "provide notice within a reasonable period of
time appropriate to the circumstances involved." However, OPM
notes that even without notification, the leave cannot be denied
or delayed: "Since the law and current regulations require
notification of the need for FMLA leave and allow flexibility
for emergency situations, no substantive changes were made in
the final regulations."
- Employees must submit medical certification of a serious
health condition (pregnancy and prenatal care fall under the
definition of a "serious health condition") no later than 15
calendar days after the date the agency requests it. Where
circumstances are beyond the employee's control—if for example,
a health care provider fails to complete the certification
within the 15-day time frame—employees are granted another 15
days. If the employee fails to provide the appropriate
documentation within 30 days, the time off will be counted as
annual leave, sick leave or leave without pay.
- Other than medical documentation, employees are not required
to submit any additional evidence demonstrating a serious health
condition. When an agency suspects employee fraud with respect
to leave under the act, it can contact its inspector general
office for further investigation.
- Holidays and non-work days falling during the period of
leave for the employee will not be counted toward the 12-week
entitlement to family and medical leave.
- Although employees can use their annual and sick leave on
top of their FMLA leave—also known as "stacking" leave—OPM notes
that annual leave is subject to the supervisor's approval, and
suggests that supervisors and employees communicate with one
another on the best course of action.
OPM is also working on regulations to allow employees to take
up to 12 weeks of accrued paid sick leave for family needs.
The FMLA regulatory changes appeared in the May
8 Federal Register. For more information, send an
e-mail to email@example.com.