Difficulties in the Implementation of FMLA by Human Resource Departments in Business Environments
Burbank, California; November 3, 2001; Joan Marques, MBA
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal legislation, filed within the U.S. Code under Title 29 -labor-, as chapter 28 -Family and Medical Leave- (FindLaw, 2001), and signed in 1993 by former President Clinton, who praised this law as an important step toward helping America’s working families balance the competing demands of work and family (Clinton, 2001, p. 63). The FMLA provides covered and eligible workers with up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, or parent; to care for a newborn, newly adopted, or newly placed child; or to take time off for a serious illness of their own (Roberts, 2001, p. 3,20) This entitlement pertains to a 12-month period, [of which] the employer may elect to use the calendar year, a fixed 12-month leave or fiscal year, or a 12-month period prior to or after the commencement of leave as the 12-month period (U.S. DOL, 2001).
Since the problems with FMLA are identical for almost all work places, it would not be appropriate to focus this paper on one particular work setting. Therefore, the FMLA complications will be discussed for Business environments in general.
Ever since its enactment, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (“FMLA”) has inspired a lot of head scratching (Ossip & Hale, 2001, p. 25).
Employers have wondered if they are subject to its provisions. Workers have wondered if they are entitled to leave in specific circumstances they are experiencing. Human resource managers have wondered how FMLA provisions dovetail with other workplace rules and benefits (Ossip & Hale, 2001, p. 25).
Ossip & Hale (2001) explain that the FMLA applies to employers that employ 50 or more employees for each working day during each of 20 or more weeks in a calendar year or the previous calendar year (p.26).
Aside from the fact that the FMLA places a hard-to-quantify administrative burden on employers (Anonymous, 2001, p.3), a variety of consulted literature lists a number of recurring confusions regarding the implementation of this law, mentioning the definition of “serious” and “intermittent” illnesses (Campion & Dill, 2000, p.155) as the most significant. The U.S. Department of Labor defines “serious health condition” as, “an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either
· Any period of incapacity or treatment connected with inpatient care … or
· Continuing treatment by a health care provider which includes any period of incapacity (U.S. DOL, 2001)”
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