The U.S. Department of Labor is expected to release updated regulations related to the Family and Medical Leave Act as early as next week.

The proposed updates are intended to help employers and employees better understand their rights and responsibilities under the act by highlighting recent regulatory changes. These include increased notice obligations for employers, as well as employee responsibilities in requesting leaves of absence, among other changes.

It will also include newly enacted legislation that extends leave periods for up to 26 weeks for certain military family members caring for a service member with a serious illness or injury.

"It's time to update these regulations -- to reflect court decisions, clear up ambiguities and address issues that weren't contemplated when the regulations were first issued in 1995," said Victoria A. Lipnic, assistant secretary for the Employment Standards Administration. She said she hoped the clarifications will foster better workplace communication.