Congress should help employers deal with Family and Medical Leave Act administrative problems while it is trying to improve benefits for military families.

Christine Vion-Gillespie, an employee relations manager who belongs to the Society for Human Resource Management, Alexandria, Va., delivered that message today during a House Education and Labor Committee hearing on family military leave benefits.

“Employees called to active duty, along with their families, face difficult and unique challenges that need to be addressed,” Vion-Gillespie said.

The SHRM has offered to work with Congress to create leave policies that will help relatives of military personnel, and the employers of and caregivers for injured military personnel.

But Vion-Gillespie added that SHRM members also would like Congress to tighten the definition of what constitutes a “serious health condition” that qualifies for FMLA leave.

The U.S. Department of Labor said in 2005 that colds, uncomplicated cases of influenza and ordinary headaches should not qualify for FMLA leave, but the department said in 2006 that a “serious health condition” could include any condition that leads a worker to miss 3 days of work and seek medical attention.

Employers also have concerns about employees’ use of “unscheduled, intermittent,” which can be taken in increments of just a few minutes and can lead to difficult administrative problems in the workplace, Vion-Gillespie said.