A member of Congress recently introduced a bill to amend the federal Family and Medical Leave Act is several significant ways. HR 3999 would amend the current Act to provide as follows:
*Cover employers with 25 + employees (current only applies to employers with 50 + employees).
*Permit employees to take "parental involvement" leave to participate in/attend activities sponsored by a school or community organization that are related to a program of the school or organization that the employee's son, daughter, or grandchild attends.
*Permit leave for "family wellness" to allow employees to attend to routine family medical care needs, such as medical and dental appointments of children, grandchildren and spouses, or to attend to the care needs of elderly relatives, whether or not they are in nursing or group.
*Provide up to four hours of "parental or family wellness leave" during a 30-day period and up to 24 hours in a 12-month period. Employees could elect or the employer could require substitution of other accrued paid leave.
*Employees would have to give at least seven days' notice of intent to take parental involvement or family wellness leave. When taking family wellness leave, employees also have to "make a reasonable effort" to schedule the leave so to avoid unduly disrupting the employer's operations, subject to the health care provider's approval (if applicable).
It is critical for employers to keep an eye on this proposed legislation and weigh in if deemed appropriate.
Keep in mind that, whether or not the legislation passes, Wisconsin has its own Family and Medical Leave Act which has some significant differences from the federal law as it exists and as proposed. Despite the differences, employers have to comply with both.