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FMLA: Adjusting to a Changing World

February, 2013 marked the 20 year anniversary of the signing of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by then-president Bill Clinton in 1993. The legislation enabled workers the unpaid right to tend to families and their own needs when injured or ill.

Most recently, the Department of Labor (DOL) expanded FMLA rights of active military members to include families of eligible veterans. The DOL also adjusted incremental tracking of time counted against the FMLA allotment granted to each employee.

These adjustments reflect needed changes to FMLA to better serve its constituents. Those changes are just part of a larger conversation needed to respond to the rapidly changing American workforce as it ages and as its priorities shift. Consider the following:

  • FMLA has been a clear benefit to workers, used over 100 million times to provide relief and opportunity to workers who need their jobs and their health insurance coverage while taking unpaid leave.
  • Many people who qualify for FMLA simply cannot afford to take unpaid leave, even with protection of their job and benefits.
  • With hard recessionary times and the rapidly changing look of the employment environment, many people do not qualify for FMLA. Workers of employers with less than 50 employees and those who cobble together part-time work are not eligible for FMLA benefits.
  • The definition of family under FMLA does not recognize same-sex partners or grandparents.

FMLA was a starting point. Technological developments, employers struggling to stay in business and the changing face of American life require the continuation of a conversation about work and family that began 20 years ago.

If concerned about your rights under FMLA, seek experienced legal counsel from an experienced employment attorney at The Reddy Law Firm, PC.

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