ON THE 20th ANNIVERSARY OF THE FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT (FMLA), NEW SURVEY SHOWS THE LAW’S USE AND IMPACT

The United States Department of Labor has released a survey on the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) undertaken in 2012 in observance of the 20th anniversary of the law’s signing.

The survey, which included both employees and worksites, follows two previous assessments, conducted in in 1995 and 2000.  The following are the survey’s key findings:

  • While the overwhelming majority of companies (a reported 83%) are either not covered by the Act or don’t know if they are so covered, most employees (approximately 59%) meet the requirements to be eligible for the FMLA’s protections;
  • Leave under the FMLA is relatively common.  The survey found that 13% of all employees took leave in 2012, a number which was unchanged from 2000.  Most employees (57%) took leave for their own illness.  Leave for pregnancy or a new child accounted for 22% of all such leaves, while leave for the illness of a relative accounted for 19%;
  • A large number of leaves (42%) lasted for ten (10) days or less, while only 17% lasted for more than sixty (60) days;
  • Although the FMLA doesn’t require it, most employees reported that they receive some pay while on leave, usually through paid vacation time, sick leave, or other paid time off;
  • Most employers reported little negative impact due to the FMLA.  Interestingly, larger worksites were more likely to report having difficulty complying with the law, and larger worksites also reported negative effects associated with the Act, such as absenteeism, turnover, and lower profitability.  This was especially true with intermittent leave;
  • Only 3% of employees reported taking intermittent leave.

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