Generally, employers know there are changes coming. It is clear the new administration will be very involved in the workplace. Equally clear, employers need to get in compliance because the focus of the new administration is focusing from educating employers to enforcement. Below are several House bills to watch:
Family Fairness Act: On January 9, 2009, Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) proposed H.R. 398, a bill which would eliminate the hours of service requirement under the Family and Medical Leave Act, allowing FMLA leave for part-time employees. The general consensus seems to be that it is unlikely the FMLA will be expanded to part-time employees. Furthermore, many organizations, such as SHRM, believe the FMLA implementing regulations need further clarification and thus oppose FMLA expansion at this time.
Family and Medical Leave Enhancement Act: On February 3, 2009, Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced H.R. 824, which would expand access to FMLA by covering employers with 25 or more employees and allows for “parental leave” under the FMLA. Several lawmakers have expressed an interest in expanding the FMLA, so provisions in H.R. 824 could be considered in Congress.
Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act: On April 28, 2009, Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced H.R. 2132, which would expand the FMLA to permit leave to care for a same-sex spouse, domestic partner, parent-in-law, adult child, sibling, or grandparent who has a serious health condition.
Family-Friendly Workplace Act: On February 10, 2009, Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) introduced H.R. 933 to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to allow private sector employees to elect paid time off as compensation for working overtime hours. Compensatory time currently a creature of the public sector and is not available to the private sector. Under H.R. 933, compensatory time for private sector employees would accrue at one-and-one-half times the regular rate of pay for each hour worked over 40 in a seven-day period. This bill is in committee, but many consider it unlikely to be passed this year.
Working Families Flexibility Act: On March 3, 2009, Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced H.R 1274, which authorizes an employee to request from an employer a change in the terms or conditions of the employee’s employment if the request relates to: (1) the number of hours the employee is required to work; (2) the times when the employee is required to work; or (3) where the employee is required to work. Employers with 15 or more employees would be covered under the bill.
Many believe that H.R. 1274 is unlikely to be enacted, but it could factor in the debate about flexible workplaces within Congress.
Family Leave Insurance Act: Representative Pete Stark (D-CA) is sponsoring H.R. 1723, which provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave for birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child; to care for a child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, grandchild, grandparent or sibling with a serious health condition; for the employee’s own serious health condition; or because of any qualifying exigency arising from a family member’s call to active duty; or to care for an injured service member. It is clear that Congress may consider expansions to the Family and Medical Leave Act, however enactment of this legislation seems remote.