Major changes to Family and Medical Leave Act

Written by Michael Handy

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Major changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act are set to happen just four days before President Bush leaves office.  The changes have some lawmakers and unions very upset, because they believe this is another case of Bush favoring big business over the people.

The three most controversial changes include the following:

First, employees will now be required to follow their companies normal call-in policies, whereas before you could wait up to two days to notify your employer about your absence.

Second, employees will also be required to see a doctor once within the first seven days, and again within the next 30 days.  Before you just had to go twice at some point during your absence.

Third, employers will now be allowed to directly call an employee's doctor and verify a medical condition.  The employer must still get your permission, but before employers were only allowed to have a medical professional contact your doctor.

There is one change that most folks agree is desperately needed.  For the first time ever, if you have a loved one in the military who gets severely injured, you will now be allowed to take up to 26 weeks off to take care of that person.  It is a change expected to help more than 130,000 families per year.

Either way, some lawmakers and unions say even with the added benefit for military families, these changes will hurt most Americans. There could be less access for folks wanting to take time off to adopt a baby or to care for an older loved one who has a serious illness.

Click the red camera icon to watch Michael Handy's live report during WBTV News This Morning.