WASHINGTON (PAI)–In a win for working women and for military families, the Family and Medical Leave Act has been extended to military families, proponents said.

The extension comes just as another Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) development occurred with the potential to undercut the 15-year-old law’s impact: The Labor Department sent proposed new rules for implementing FMLA to the anti-worker and anti-woman GOP Bush regime’s Office of Management and Budget for review.

And while she cannot cite chapter and verse of DOL’s proposals, much less what OMB’s regulatory affairs office will come up with in a month or two, Devin McGraw of the National Partnership for Women and Families says she has received reports that one change might make it harder for workers to take “intermittent leave” for such things as doctor’s appointments and treatments.

The defense bill Bush signed in late January extends FMLA to families of wounded service members, an important provision during war and at a time when more service personnel are surviving more-traumatic injuries than ever before. It is also the first extension of the FMLA law in 15 years.

The changes in FMLA rules are important because they can limit how anyone can use the law. FMLA says any worker in a company that employs at least 50 people shall have 12 weeks of unpaid leave yearly to care for himself, herself or ill family members, and shall have the right to reclaim his or her job afterwards.

But the leave is not paid. Business, led by the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, could not get a GOP-run Congress to repeal FMLA. So for eight years, they’ve demanded Bush’s DOL draft new rules to make it harder for workers to use the leave.

They seek to require workers to give advance notice of when they want “intermittent leave.” That would bar workers from taking intermittent leave for emergencies, such as when a child becomes sick at school. Intermittent leave often lasts only a few hours. Another potential change would require intermittent leave to be at least half a day.

The seek to require annual medical exams for workers who must take family leave for someone with a “serious” health condition that is continuous over a period of time.

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