In an attempt to streamline the prior model notice of rights, certification, and designation forms under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) recently released new model forms, which covered employers may now start to use.  Employers may access the new forms on the DOL’s website.  While these forms are optional and employers are permitted to use their own forms, employers should ensure that their forms provide the same notice information and require the same basic certification information.

Significantly, the updated forms do not alter the substance of benefits available to employees under the FMLA.  However, the Notice of Eligibility and Rights & Responsibilities forms include more questions that can be answered by simply checking boxes (rather than requiring employees to provide written responses) and provide additional substantive information regarding the substitution of paid leave and concurrent leave usage during FMLA leave.  The revised certification forms to support an employee’s request for FMLA leave have been re-formatted to more efficiently determine whether a condition qualifies as a “serious health condition” and provide for more information regarding when follow-up information may be obtained from healthcare providers.

Additionally, the DOL released a Request for Information seeking public comments regarding FMLA regulations.  The topics of questions posed to the public address a variety of topics, including employers’ difficulties in determining whether an employee has a chronic condition that qualifies as a “serious health condition,” the circumstances surrounding intermittent FMLA leave, and the sufficiency of information required to notify employers of an employee’s potential need for FMLA leave.  Currently, public comments will be accepted until September 15, 2020.

Overall, employers should compare the FMLA forms they currently use with the updated model forms to ensure their forms contain sufficient information and require the same certification information.  Further, additional changes to FMLA regulations may be coming down the pipeline after the DOL finishes reviewing the submitted public comments.  Employers should continue to stay up-to-date on any developments.