Medical Leave Act leaves some workers out
Ask workers whether it’s possible to balance the competing demands of job and family, and some – particularly those at firms with 50 or more employees – might answer “yes,” thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act.
The U.S. Department of Labor released a report about the impact of the FMLA since it became law 20 years ago this February.
Generally, says Debra Ness, president of The National Partnership for Women & Families, the report shows the law has been a success, enabling “tens of millions of workers to take leave when they need it most” to care for a new infant, or their own or a family member’s health issue.
The law mandates that firms with 50 or more workers within a 75-mile radius grant unpaid leave to employees who’ve put in 1,250 hours the previous year, allowing them to return with their position and health insurance intact.
Although not required, some smaller firms do offer similar leaves, says Vicki Shabo, a director at the NPWF.
And, she adds, it’s more likely that higher earners – whose benefits are typically richer than lower wage workers – will have leave privileges, perhaps even paid leave.
The NWPF would like to see paid leave extended to more workers, including part-timers, low earners and those at smaller firms. Right now, about two-thirds of workers are taking a “paid” leave for their own or a family member’s health issue, says Shabo, “but many are combining unused vacation and sick days” to cobble together time off.
If you’re changing jobs, you may not know what a company’s leave policy is, says Shabo. “Some firms do have benefits posted on their website.” Workers in New Jersey and California, though, have more leave privileges due to state laws there.
© CTW Features