Department of Labor Reconsiders Family and Medical Leave Act

The Department of Labor will accept public comments on the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) until February 2, amid legal challenges from business groups that the Act is too permissive and allows for abuse. The FMLA was passed in 1993 to ensure that employers grant eligible employees up to 12 workweeks of unpaid family and medical leave, including the birth and care of a newborn child, the care of an immediate family member with a serious health condition, or the serious health condition of an employee.

President Bush’s Department of Labor received complaints from a variety of business groups who claim the Act is being abused to the detriment of companies. More than 50 million workers have taken leave since 1993, and the Department of Labor estimates that 6.1 million employees took advantage of the program.

Women’s advocacy groups support strengthening the FMLA, as it helps employers create family-friendly work environments. National Partnership for Women and Families President Debra Ness noted that abuse of the FMLA is a fault of a company’s management, not the Act nor the employee. Ness told the Washington Post, “We need to be careful not to address discipline problems through regulation.”
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US Department of Labor; Washington Post 12/12/06; Boston Business Journal 12/8/06

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