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Family Leave Act Remains Complicated Issue

February 26th, 2007


An industry study reports that 4 out of 5 Human Resources Executives do not fully understand their rights and responsibilities under the Family and Medical Leave Act.


“The fair application of family and medical leave rules is one of the most important challenges and responsibilities facing Human Resource professionals today,” said Susan R. Meisinger, president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management. “Our survey demonstrates that 14 years after the bill was signed into law, the rules – especially those related to the definition of what constitutes a serious medical condition – continue to create more questions than answers.


“Employees need to know the benefits they are entitled to, and employers need to understand how to provide those benefits in a way that is fair for all workers,” Meisinger said.


FMLA allows most workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for birth, adoption, and other serious health conditions, or to care for a seriously ill family member.


Key findings of the survey include:


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78 percent said that employees do not fully understand the leave’s provisions including the need to notify employers promptly when they are taking leave
Bullet Arrow 51 percent experienced “significant challenges” in administering/granting medical leave
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Two-thirds experienced challenges in granting “chronic leave”


As a result of the survey, the Society made the following suggestions to the U.S. Department of Labor:


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Clarify the definition of “serious health condition” to cover conditions where the employee is unable to work for five or more business days.
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Require unscheduled intermittent leave to be granted in half day increments to allow the employer to better manage the absence and loss of productivity
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Permit an employer to contact an employee’s health care provider to clarify the employee’s medical information.





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