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Family and Medical Leave Act - Research Paper Example

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The Act was ratified into law by President Clinton and requires employers to provide unpaid leave to employees to address serious…
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Family and Medical Leave Act
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Family and Medical Leave Act Family and Medical Leave Act The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was enacted in 1993 to grant temporary medical and family leave under specified conditions (Merkle, 2012). The Act was ratified into law by President Clinton and requires employers to provide unpaid leave to employees to address serious health conditions, provide care for sick family members or adopted or newborn children. The Act was then amended in 2008 with the objective of assisting employees to balance work-related demands with family responsibilities without having to risk their employment. The unpaid leave should be for a duration of 12 weeks within a period of 12 months and available to eligible employees. It is applicable to all public employees and those in private companies with at least 50 employees. Certain FMLA provisions are favorable for employers and employees. However, the area of Human Resources (HR) has struggled with some of its aspects, especially those in regards to episodic or chronic conditions, sporadic use of leave or serious conditions of health. HR departments are facing challenges in terms of keeping track of intermittent leave; chronic abuse of such leave; morale problems arising from employees required to cover for absent colleagues; associated costs of productivity loss due employees being on leave; vague medical leave certification documentation by healthcare professionals; and the uncertainty of the leave requests’ legitimacy (Merkle, 2012).
On the employers’ part, they are challenged by the realization that employees will not always notify them promptly when they require FMLA leave, more so in cases of unexpected conditions. Regulations stipulate that employees give a notice of at least 30 days in advance, but this is not practical in unforeseeable emergencies. Therefore, it becomes a considerable problem for the employer and HR department to plan for the absence of their employees. Eligible employees are the greatest beneficiaries of FMLA, so long as they can give sufficient notice with supporting evidence of the need for leave. They have enough time to address family and personal obligations while their jobs are still guaranteed. The Department of Labor (DOL) proposed a pitch in 2011, aiming to promote the clarity of behavior associated with leave-taking (BLR, 2012). According to the DOL, it is imperative for employees, employers and HR departments to develop compliance programs and regulatory priorities based on current and credible data rather than anecdotal and outdated information. An example of pending legislation is that of the state of Washington, in which employees will be granted up to five weeks family leave insurance benefits (BLR, 2012). This will have a weekly benefit of $250.
Agreeably, this Act was necessary because there comes a time when employees need more than the conventional paid leave to resolve, or at least just address, family matters. The underlying significance is that employees would not work to their optimum productivity if domestic issues are weighing down on them. For example, an employee is not expected to give full concentration on their job when they have a terminally ill parent at home. They should be given more time to contribute the care they can and return to work with one burden out of the way. The only aspect that may not have been considered exhaustively is how employers stand to cushion themselves from the long absence of employees, although the requirement of “at least 50 employees” addresses it considerably (DOL, 2007).
References
Department of Labor (DOL). (2007). Family and Medical Leave Act Regulations: A Report on the Department of Labor’s Request for Information. Federal Register 72(124), 114-121.
Merkle, J. (2012). Management and ideology. California: University of California Press.
The Business and Legal Resources (BLR). (2012). FMLA 2012: What happens next. Retrieved from http://hr.blr.com/whitepapers/Benefits-leave/FLMA-Leave-of-Absence/FLMA-2011-Year-in-Review-/ Read More
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