On May 12, 2014, the Department of Labor posted and made effective new regulations extending benefits equal to those under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to school paraprofessionals. The regulations were adopted pursuant to Public Act 12-43, which stated that paraprofessionals in an educational setting who have been employed for at least twelve months by their employer, and have had at least nine hundred and fifty hours (950) of service with such employer during the previous twelve month period are entitled to have their current positions remained open and available to them for a period of twelve (12) weeks. The hour requirement for other FMLA employees has always been 1,250 annual work hours. However, since most paraprofessionals are ten (10) month employees, this was reduced to 950 hours per year. It is important to note that as with the prior standard for public school employees, only actual “hours worked” will count towards the 950 hour requirement. Any time off does not count regardless of whether such time is paid or unpaid, including vacation, holidays, personal time, etc. School districts should treat FMLA cases related to qualifying paraprofessionals as they would any other FMLA eligible employee, as these new regulations simply expanded the scope of employees. This should make compliance with these regulations of little difficulty to school districts. However, districts should be sure to review any existing school FMLA policies to ensure that they are consistent with the new regulations. Click here for a full copy of the regulations.