In other words, under the FMLA, employees could for instance choose to work 24 weeks on part time basis. Also, an employee could take a weekly leave every month, or any other type of combination he finds most suitable for his condition. The worker is asked to make a request for FMLA leave 30 days before he intends to leave and he might be asked to hand in documents attesting the necessity for his leave. Additionally, considering that husband and wife both work for the same employer, they cannot benefit simultaneously from FMLA to care for the same new born, sick child, adopted child or parent (Vikesland, 2006).
4. Benefits of FMLA
Human Resource Managers have often complained about the difficulty and complexity of implementing the Family and Medical Leave Act, arguing the side effects it has upon the company, but also the bureaucracy and the multitude of laws protecting employee rights. The Department of Labor on the other hand, through its surveys conducted on numerous organizations which have adopted the FMLA, concluded that "the majority of companies covered by the FMLA find it very or somewhat easy to administer and that it has had little or no impact on company productivity, profitability or growth" (Guerin and England, 2007). Not only that it is easy to implement and does not negatively impact profitability, the FMLA is in fact beneficial for both employees as well as employer.
FMLA Benefits to Employees
A generalist look at the Family and Medical Leave Act reveals a twofold benefit for the employees. First of all, they are able to attend to their personal responsibilities. This basically materializes in that they can take time off to bond with a child, be it a newborn or an adopted child; they can also care for their family members or for themselves. And secondly, they can do this without jeopardizing their jobs. As the employer is obliged to preserve and reinstitute the employee in his actual or in a similar position upon his return from the FMLA leave, he can attend to his private life responsibilities without fear for his professional future.
Another benefit to the employee is that, throughout his twelve months leave, he still enjoys the benefits of a regular employee. This ensures him continuance of medical coverage as well as other vital benefits, such as paid sick leave or paid vacations.
The next benefit is that the leave under FMLA, for the various purposes stipulated by the law, does not negatively impact the quality and status of the employer. In other words, the employee will not suffer disciplinary repercussions as a result of his departure. This will lead to a better preservation of the employee's reputation, ability to make decisions and perception in the work place. Foremost, caring for children, spouses, parents or oneself is often regarded as a noble gesture, one with which co-workers tend to sympathize; it will also lead to a preservation and even improvement in the way the respective employee is perceived in the working environment.
Another benefit for the employee is that the act allows them not only to take the time off, but also to do this in a manner that is considered most efficient to each unique situation. Take for instance the case of two former spouses, sharing the custody of their new born son. The baby might spend mornings with the mother and afternoons with the father. The FMLA will allow the parents to attend to their parental responsibilities by working 24 weeks on part time basis. The tactic can be applied to other situations, such as a brother and sister sharing the responsibilities of caring for their elderly mother, or the case of a single mother who has to spend most afternoons picking her children from school and driving them to soccer practice.
The part time tactic is useful also from a financial standpoint. The FMLA clearly states that the twelve weeks leave is unpaid. Therefore, during this period, the employee will not benefit from financial support from the part of the employer. This is often tough as the caring for a new baby or a sick family member also requires money. The ability to work part time then ensures the employees with some money to get by, but also with sufficient time to attend to their personal responsibilities.
The act has another beneficial effect upon the morale of the worker. With more and more women choosing to work outside the household, the feeling of guilt upon going to the office is not unfamiliar to these working mothers. But whenever the child is in poor health and needs attendance, the mother has the ability to offer her support through the FMLA. This is likely to reduce her guilt and increase her morale, making her better able to focus on professional tasks. Ultimately then, the most prominent benefit of the Family and Medical Leave act is that it allows employees to combine the responsibilities at home with those at work.
Organizational staff members tend to perform poorly on the job if their mind is distracted by the sick child in daycare, the newborn at home, the sick parent in the retirement home or if himself is in pain and discomfort or he manifests feelings of guilt for not serving the country's battles. The FMLA allows employees to address these personal issues without repercussions on job stability.
FMLA Benefits to Employers
In terms of financial concerns, the employer registers some significant benefits from the Family and Medical Leave Act. Throughout the leave of the employee, the employer is not requested by law that he continues payment on non-financial benefits. For instance, the employer could decide to not pay the worker's life insurance. Given that this is not regulated, the approach taken relative to non-financial benefits throughout the FMLA departure depends strictly on the internal policies within each employing organization. This represents a benefit as it creates increased flexibility, allowing as such the economic agent to reduce personnel expenditures throughout the employee's FMLA leave (CCH Tax Law Editors, 2007).
Also in terms of financial status, throughout the leave, the employee enjoys several benefits similar to the working employee. However, he must pay his own portion in these contributions. This then means that the employer will not register increased expenditures due to FMLA. Otherwise put the, the FMLA allows employers to consolidate and even improve their financial status by not only generating additional expenditures, but also by allowing him to reduce some part of personnel costs.
While offering tremendous benefits to the employees, the Family and Medical Leave Act also plays a protectionist role for the employer. In this order, it considers employees eligible for FMLA only when three simultaneous conditions are met. In such, the worker has to be employed with the current company for at least one year, during which it must have worked at least 1,250 hours and he must activate in a worksite of 50 or more employees in a 75-mile radius. Additionally, the employee cannot benefit from FMLA leave for more than twelve months. These stipulations ensure the manager that his employee will return within the organization and resume their regular activities. Also, it ensures that he will not suffer personnel shortages as two members of the same family cannot simultaneously benefit from FMLA for the same event.
The ability to operate on a part time basis is also an advantage to the employer as he is able to continue to work with the same employee who is good at his job and to which the management has grown accustomed. Working with the same employee on part time basis rather than hiring new personnel is helpful as the employee is already familiar with and efficient in completing his tasks. Assigning a new worker would require additional financial investments in selection and training; plus, reductions in efficiency would be registered throughout the period it takes for the employee to adjust.
Most of the advantages presented above are of a more technical nature, but the ultimate benefit felt by the employer is materialized in increased employee on-the-job satisfaction. The staff members will feel valued by the organization which allows them to take some time to attend to their personal problems. Also, upon return, they are likely to be more content on the job. This will then materialize in more sustained performances and a desire to overcome their limits. A satisfied employee is also a loyal employee, meaning as such that the FMLA supports the reduction of the employee turnover rates and the adjacent expenditures with selection, recruitment, training, integration and so on. Finally, and in the same tone, the FMLA, through its effects on employee satisfaction, also allows the employer to benefit from a satisfactory return made on personnel investments, such as training or integration.
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