Family Medical Leave Act gives the right to eligible employees to get unpaid and job protected leave from their employers for their family and medical reasons. According to FMLA if employees are eligible then they can take 12 workweeks leaves in a year. Employees take these leave if they are facing serious health problems. Under this Act employers are required to give unpaid leave to employees for family and medical reasons in order to create balance between work and family.
History of FMLA
In the starting of 20th century, many labor organizers and social reformers acknowledged that there must be some laws and regulations which should address the issues of employee illnesses and family responsibilities. So after World War II many European nations came up with ideas to make such laws. They made different groups and started putting pressure on the members of congress to make laws that protect female employee's rights; labor rights, family life rights and labor medical rights passed legislation that required organizations to give leave to employees who were seriously ill. At that time these proposals were totally opposed by business lobbying groups because that they believed that it would create a negative impact on the productivity of the organizations. So to address all these issues FMLA was passed on 5th February 1993 and it was signed by former U.S. president Clinton. This Act is equally beneficial for both employees and employers.
FMLA was implemented in 1993 as a new labor law to fulfill the needs of the workforce. This Act includes disability leave, medical costs and insurance coverage. The main objective of this act was to create balance between work and family responsibilities. This law also provides employees luxurious leave rights than leave under federal law (The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. 2004).
Since 1993, there have been numbers of changes proposed in this Act such as lowering the establishment size of the organization, increasing the number of reasons for leave, enhancing the definition of serious health conditions, restraining the use of irregular leave to give benefit to employers, increasing the duration of leave etc. But none of these changes have yet been implemented (Galinsky, Bond, Sakai, Kim and Giuntoli, 2008).
Major Areas of Responsibility and Main Purpose
The main purpose of FMLA is to protect the family integrity and promote stability and economic security of families. This law also protects employees from losing their jobs because history shows that employees were fired because of taking 3 to 4 weeks sick leave. Another main purpose of this law was to stop the discrimination in the workplace particularly discrimination on the basis of gender. Previously, in the past women who wanted to have a child had to sacrifice her career because organizations were not allowing them to have leaves. But now because of FMLA every woman can raise her family without giving up her career.
The main reason of creating this Act was that in the past when employees made request for leave then majority of the companies denied and there are occasions when employees were even fired for taking family and medical leave. So in order to protect the rights of employees this Act was passed in 1993. This Act applies to all local, federal organizations, educational institutes, public agencies and private organizations. This law enables employees to care for themselves and for family members and remove the fear of job loss and loss of benefits. Some of the organizations are also implementing paid family leave insurance program. This Act only applies to organizations which have 50 or more than 50 employees but in some companies the minimum requirement is 25 employees.
It is commonly seen in organizations that they cut the medical benefits of employees who are on leave so FMLA offers protection to employees and guarantees employees that they can take family and medical leave up to 12 weeks in a year.
Every employee has some family responsibilities so FMLA helps employees to take time off from work to fulfill their family responsibilities (Asher, and Lenhoff, 2001)
In order to get FMLA benefits and to become eligible for FMLA, employees must have one year experience of working in the same organization and must worked 1250 hours for that organization. If the employees have worked less than 1250 hours with that employers/organization then they are not eligible to entitle such leave benefits. If employees have short-term illness then they are not eligible to take leave as well as they are ineligible to take leave for routine medical checkup. It is the responsibility of HR department of the organization to follow the FMLA guidelines (Brody, and Brito, 2007).
Benefits provided by FMLA to Employees
Employees can take these unpaid leaves to care for a new child or any family member. In law, family members only include parents, spouse, child, next of kin and adult children (U.S. Department of Labor clarifies FMLA definition of 'son and daughter', 2010). They are also eligible for these leaves if they are having serious sickness and they are unable to perform their duties. Serious sickness means any injury or impairment that makes person unable to work. Under FMLA organizations are also bound to give same position to employees upon their return to work and if the same position is not available then organizations must give equivalent position with equivalent pay scale. Organizations are also bound to give same pay and there will be no deduction of pay and benefits. Those employees are also entitled to give health benefits. Organizations can't downgrade employees who have taken leave and can't fire employees who have taken FMLA leave.
Recently, several countries have made adjustments in FMLA and they now allow employees to take unpaid leave so that they can attend their children educational activities. And some of the states are also planning to enhance this Act even further that employees can also take unpaid leaves for routine checkup of their family (Williams, 2010).
Employees must provide the notice to their employers as soon as possible before leave is to begin and FMLA also gives the right to organizations to demand medical certificate from employees. Every employee must disclose why he or she is applying for FMLA leave and it is right of organization to ask proof and justification from employees. FMLA also allows employees to break up their leave but it can't exceed 12 weeks in a year. Organizations are also required to maintain the employee's insurance under FMLA. Organizations are also required to health benefits during the period of FMLA leave as well as required to pay the premium on health coverage.
Benefits provided by FMLA to Employers
It is a general perception that FMLA only gives benefits to employees and doesn't provide any benefit to organizations. But this is totally wrong because there are no laws in this world which overwhelm businesses. It is correct that FMLA protects the rights of employees but on the other hand it is also protecting the rights organizations/employers. These laws are just to make standards in business environment and to create uniformity among all the organizations. If the organizations are offering good benefits to employees then the employee retention ratio will be high because one of the best ways of attracting employees is to give them different benefits. Some companies are also providing additional benefits than FMLA to attract more effective employees. FMLA allows both organizations and employees to work together and find out the solutions that are beneficial and suitable for both. Under FMLA organizations are required to keep records like notice of leave, certification, employee's eligibility etc. If an organization would satisfy the needs of employees and take care of his family then productivity of the employees would increase as well. So there is no doubt that FMLA would help…