In 1993, the administration of President Bill Clinton created and passed the Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. This set of regulations was designed to allow working mothers and certain caregivers to be able to take a leave of absence from their jobs for the purpose of caring for newborns or other family members in need of care that the working caregiver would be providing (Canty, et al, 2007). While on the face, it would seem that this is an excellent way to facilitate the wellbeing of families, the application and implications of FMLA in some cases means something quite different to employers.
This research will discuss the application and implications of FMLA; upon conclusion of the research, all facets of this legislation will be better understood. Application of the Family Medical Leave Act The introduction of this research suggested that the FMLA was originally designed to provide workers a way to deliver care to those in their families who need them to deliver it to them. As a means of better understanding this, a more detailed discussion of the application of FMLA is in order.
According to the United States Department of Labor, the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 requires employers to provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12 month period of employment in order to for the birth and care of the newborn child of the employee, for placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care, to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.
The reasoning behind this is to make it possible for individuals to maintain a balance between work and family life, so that upon return to work, they can properly perform their duties without distraction, and conversely, that the family members in need will not be neglected for the sake of a working caregiver (Canty, et al, 2007). With the rising number of members of the armed forces who are in need of care from family members, in 2009, an amendment to the 1993 Family Medical Leave Act makes provisions for family members of military personnel to expand the unpaid leave up to 26 weeks in order to be able to care for these individuals.
This extends to a son, daughter, parent or next of kin, much like the original regulations (United States Department of Labor, 2008). In this sense, the many deprivations of military life at least allow for the military member in need of care to be able to obtain care from loved ones. Again, while the FMLA would seem like a flawless way for family relations to survive the daily stresses of the working world, for the companies that must comply with FMLA, there are implications that are quite different. With this in mind, those implications will now be discussed in more detail.
Implications of the Family Medical Leave Act For employers, FMLA in fact presents daunting challenges in the actual implementation of the Act as well as the daily administration of the program and compliance with the many issues that crop up as a matter of course. First, there is a consideration of the dollars involved in the FMLA. Creators of the Act felt that the lifting of the requirement of employers to pay workers while they were taking the government mandated leave would eliminate financial impact on these employers.
However, this short-sided thinking left out many of the other expense factors, including the cost of recruiting substitute workers or to suffer productivity losses if the worker in question is irreplaceable, costs associated with the recordkeeping that FMLA demands from a legal standpoint. In the midst of all of these financial considerations stands the fact that FMLA leaves employers exposed to liability if the rights of a worker under the Act are in some way violated (Canty, et al, 2007).
What is basically seen in the FMLA is a theoretical tug of war, whereby the government is both trying to protect the rights of individuals and enforce regulations against businesses, while keeping both afloat. This is the classic paradox of government-serving the needs of everyone without unfairly depriving anyone, which is much more difficult in practice than in theory. Conclusion The Family Medical Leave Act, like so many government regulations, started out with good intentions, and has become distorted as the implementation and enforcement of the Act has turned out to be a significant burden for domestic companies.
Therefore, in conclusion, it is fair to say that while the government has a responsibility to look out for families, as it has done with FMLA, it also has a responsibility to protect businesses from excessive regulation. Works Cited Canty, K. , & Sherwood, S. (2007). Expanding the Family Medical Leave Act. Policy Studies Journal, 35(3), 536+. United States Department of Labor (2008). Family Medical Leave Act Overview. Retrieved April 26, 2009 from the World Wide Web: http://www. dol. gov/esa/whd/fmla/.