U.S. Labor Department releases study affirming positive impact of Family and Medical Leave Act

Over the past 20 years, employers have been required to provide family and medical leave benefits to their employees nationwide. Today, a majority of employers say enforcement of the law, known as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), has either had no impact on their businesses at all or had a positive effect on operations.

According to a recent study titled “Family and Medical Leave Act in 2012: Final Report,” 91 percent of participants said the law did not negatively impact operations or burden employers. In fact, some said business was better, with reductions in morale, turnover and absenteeism. Another reinforcing statistic – 90 percent of employees go back to their job after FMLA leave, meaning little abuse of this system.

“The Family and Medical Leave Act codified a simple and fundamental principle: Workers should not have to choose between the job they need and the family members they love and who need their care,”  acting-Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris said in a statement. “The FMLA has helped millions upon millions of working families manage challenging personal circumstances at very little cost to their employers and with very little disruption in the workplace.”

Acting Deputy Administrator for the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division Mary Beth Maxwell said in a statement, “The significance of the FMLA is in its recognition that workers aren’t just contributing to the success of a business, but away from their jobs they are contributing to the health and well-being of their families. Our survey results show that, for two decades, granting job-protected leave has been good for employers and good for millions of workers and their loved ones. The FMLA is working.”

Established in 1993 with the signature of then-President Bill Clinton, FMLA allows employees to take off up to 12 weeks without pay to be with his or her newborn, newly adopted or newly placed child; care for a serious health concern for a child, partner or parent; or care for their own serious illness. During that period, employees are able to take advantage of health insurance benefits in the same manner as they were prior to taking leave.

“As the organization that drafted and led the fight for the FMLA, the National Partnership continues to push for improvements,” Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, said in a statement. “We are also pressing for a national paid family and medical leave program that would prevent workers from having to sacrifice precious income when serious medical needs arise or children are born or join families.”

Amendments to FMLA include adding protections to allow employees with family in the military to take time off to deal with that family member’s foreign deployment and up to 26 weeks away from work to take care of a member of the military with a serious injury or illness. For more information, visit www.dol.gov/whd/fmla.

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