Businesses Attack Family Leave Act

Several employers and businesses are requesting that the Family and Medical Leave Act, signed into effect by President Clinton in 1993, be “fixed” before it is expanded to cover more workers.

The federal law, which applies to public agencies, public schools, and private employers with more than 50 employees, was designed to equalize the demands and needs of family life and the workplace. The Family and Medical Leave Act allows “mployees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year to recover from illness, care for a new child, or nurse a sick family member.”

But businesses claim that the law is causing confusion. Employers argue that problems have arisen regarding the time frame in which employers must inform employees of their rights, attaining sufficient information about employees health problems to determine if they qualify for the leave, and determining the definition of a “serious illness.”

Senator Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., stated that he believed many employers just do not want to comply with the law. “I seem to be hearing from those who are looking through regulatory process as a way of undoing some of the legislation we achieved,” said Dodd.

The Clinton administration plans to revise and expand the law in the following ways: 1) applying it to businesses with more than 25 employees; 2) allowing employees to take an extra 24 hours of unpaid leave each year to attend their children’s activities; and 3) developing ways of using unemployment compensation payments to support men and women on parental leave.


AP - July 14, 1999

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