OPM recently clarified that it is specifically soliciting detailed comments regarding the proposed military caregiver leave regulations published in the August 26, 2009 Federal Register. The comment period closes on October 26, 2009. A link to the new regulations follows: http://frwebgate1.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/TEXTgate.cgi?WAISdocID=684026377723+0+1+0&WAISaction=retrieve
Along with the publication of the proposed military caregiver leave regulations, OPM also announced that it was considering whether a comprehensive review of all OPM FMLA regulations is needed to identify any problems or concerns that stakeholders have experienced in administering the FMLA. In response to a query by yours truely, OPM explained that it was not asking for a comprehensive review of all OPM FMLA regulations by October 26, 2009. Rather, OPM is instead trying to determine whether a comprehensive regulatory review is necessary. To do that, OPM is looking for more broad-brush stakeholder (agencies, employee organizations, labor unions, etc) recommendations and comments whether the current FMLA regulations are working for them, or whether changes are needed and, if so, in what areas and why. OPM advised that, for example, if stakeholders are consistently struggling with FMLA administration in a particular area or with a particular regulation they should be able to identify the area and the problem "without undo reflection." As examples, OPM offered that it expected comments such as:
- Employees constantly misunderstand what is meant by xyz, which results in the following difficulties.
- Xyz needs to be clarified.
- Headings are too general and make it difficult to find appropriate information.
- 5 CFR 630.XXXX as currently written is difficult to administer because of xyz.
The point being that, at this juncture, OPM does not expect stakeholders to offer a painstakingly detailed, section-by-section dissection of the non-military caregiver leave FMLA regulations by October 26, 2009. Rather, what they are looking for are reasonably specific comments regarding obvious administrative challenges or satisfaction with the current OPM FMLA regulatory regime. From those comments OPM will decide whether to conduct a more thorough regulatory review, including the solicitation of detailed stakeholder comments.
Comment: Provide OPM with detailed comments regarding the proposed military caregiver leave regulations by October 26, 2009. Basically, those regulations mirror the DOL regulations. Additionally, by the same date, provide OPM with any comments or suggests for improvement or problems you are having administering the existing or "basic" FMLA regulations. If you don't speak up now don't complain later.
My thanks to OPM for promptly clarifying the issue.