The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) was established to help protect employees who missed work for medical reasons. "The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides employees job protection in case of family or medical emergency. FMLA permits eligible employees to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period." (Martocchio, 2003) The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is responsible for administrating and enforcing most of the labor laws, including FMLA. There are four reasons that an employee can claim FMLA.
They are 1) for the birth and care for a newborn child; 2) for placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care; 3) to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; and 4) to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition. "Covered employers must grant an eligible employee up to a total of 12 work weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for one or more of these reasons" (U. S. Department of Labor [USDL], n.d.)
There are several qualifications that both employers and employees must have in order to qualify for FMLA. An employer covered by FMLA is one who employs 50 or more employees. The employee must be employed with the company for at least 12 months. Now that FMLA has been around for over ten years now, one would think that the administration of this law would be easy. However, that is no the case. There are primarily two reasons it is so cumbersome to work with.
"First, the Department of Labor regulations are too voluminous. They are nearly 100 pages long and replete with inconsistent and unclear language. Second, the regulations are not integrated with the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA")." (Cohen & McLeod, 2003). Even though the effect of this law has been favorable for employees, the impact to the employer is not as encouraging. Because of this law, it is reasonable to believe that some employees are abusing this benefit.
By having employees abuse this benefit, it really could cost everyone in the log run. "In reality, the impact of FMLA abuse extends well beyond the workplace because FMLA costs are passed on to consumers." (Profesional Exchange Service Corporation, 2005) Even though the time off is unpaid to the employee, it is very disruptive to certain types of business such as call centers who need to schedule employees to cover busy call times with in their business. By having employees abusing this policy, it becomes harder and harder to staff some businesses.
It is not only the employer that suffers; it is also the employees that are left to work when there peers off of work. Some of the other issues with the administration of the law are the vague diagnoses doctors give for the reasons employees should be off of work. In some cases, employees file under the FMLA law when in fact they may have a type of disability the employer could accommodate under the ADA law. Even though the intent of this act was to help protect employees, many believe that FMLA may be doing more harm to business that it was intended.
It may be time to review and revamp this law, and have some of the items intergraded into the ADA in order for it to be better managed. Many believe that there are ways to improve this law to help protect employees as well as have the law not have a severe impact on businesses.
Cohen, D. G., & McLeod, T. (2003, August 2003). Changes in FMLA are needed. Michigan Banker, 15(8), 22-23. Retrieved from ProQuest November 27, 2005 Martocchio, J. J. (2003). Employee Benefits. New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill Companies. Profesional Exchange Service Corporation (2005, August 2005). FMLA Impact on Local Call Centers. Professional Exchange Service Corp, , . Retrieved November 28, 2005, http://www.pesc.com/ServiceLine/8-2005ServiceLine.pdf U. S. Department of Labor (n.d.). Compliance Assistance - Family and Medical Leave Act. Retrieved November 27, 2005, www.dol.gov/esa