On Tuesday, the 20th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Department of Labor declined to implement changes to the law related to tracking very small measures of time off, but did finalize congressional amendments which included expanding benefits to veterans and civilian pilots and flight crews.

Long the main complaint from companies related to FMLA has been the difficulty of its administration. Proposed changes would have required the tracking of unscheduled intermittent leave, pricklier even than most.

The Society for Human Resource Management released a statement Tuesday applauding the Labor Department’s decision. SHRM had reached out last year regarding the possible shift and “DOL said almost 90% of the comments on the rule came from SHRM members.”

“Tracking intermittent leave for medical reasons has long been a challenge and confusing for employers,” SHRM says. In SHRM research “73% of HR professionals surveyed reported challenges with tracking intermittent leave.”

The changes that were implemented included expanding to families of eligible veterans the same unpaid leave options available to current service members and clarified eligibility for airline personnel; because of the unique way their hours are tabulated, many flight crews had not qualified. Also included was a provision ensuring workers related to National Guard or Reserve members can attend unexpected farewell or welcome-home ceremonies.

“Enabling our military families to care for their loved ones without fear of losing their job and to actively participate in deployment, reunification and recovery reflects our deeper understanding of the role family members have in sustaining an all-volunteer force,” says acting Labor Secretary Seth D. Harris. “The rule also helps ensure that pilots and flight crews will no longer need to choose between career and caring for a loved one.”

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