The Impact of FMLA
(Family and Medical Leave Act) on Human Resources
Final Research Project
GB520 – 06
According to the United States Department of Labor (DOL), The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 mandates that employers who have 50 or more employees living within 75 miles of the worksite, must provide a minimum of 12 weeks of unpaid job protected leave. The employee must have worked for the organization for a minimum of 12 months and must have clocked a minimum of 1,250 working hours within that 12-month period. Congress passed this law in 1993 under President Bill Clinton, and it “is designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. It also seeks to accommodate the legitimate interests of employers and promote equal employment opportunity for men and women”. (U.S. Department of, 2009) Prior to the Family and Medical Leave Act, it was up to the discretion of each individual employer to determine if they would allow for an employee to be granted time off to deal with family and/or health related issues. Employees’ requests could be denied for any reason and they could also be fired. There was no consistency across the board in regards to these matters. After the law was passed in 1993, employees are now able to take time off for reasons including, but not limited to caring for a newborn or newly adopted child, caring for seriously ill immediate family members, and recovering from their own serious illness. If an employee has to take time off for any reason that legally falls under the realm of FMLA, employers are required to retain the employee’s position or restore the employee to a substantially equal position in pay, benefits, and responsibility.
As with most political movements, there have been conflicting views on the Family and Medical Leave Act and the impact that it has on businesses. President Bill Clinton is a democrat and most of the opposition comes from the Republican Party and the conservatives. One reason there has been push back from the opposing parties is because conservatives feel that FMLA is a “one-size-fits-all approach to family leave” and “sweeping federal laws” are not the most productive method of bringing about change. Republicans are not against the government helping families spend time together, but they also feel that businesses need to have some independence and autonomy in the issue. In 1990 and in 1992 Republican President George Bush vetoed similar bills because he felt that the “bills did not give employers enough leeway in making decisions about when--and for how long--to offer leave.” (U.S. Department of, 2009) Shortly after the act was established, both Democrats and Republicans began proposing addendums or expansions but attempts were unsuccessful because they could not agree on how much involvement the employer should have.
The Effect of FMLA
Many leaders and professionals in the business world opposed the expansions based on the belief that the needs for them were exaggerated. They also feel that the Family and Medical Leave Act is extremely detrimental to many businesses because it gives the employee the impression that they should be entitled to time off for some of the most trivial of reasons. The cost to fight an FMLA claim is so expensive that employers basically have no choice when time off is being requested and it seems frivolous. In addition, there is often very little to zero notice given when employees use FMLA, which gives no consideration to the employer or the needs of the business. The major impact that this causes for the organization is in its productivity, the many costs incurred with the lost of productivity, and the cost it takes to pick up the slack. According to a report released by the Society...
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