The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) applies to most companies with 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius. Employers must allow workers up to 12 weeks unpaid time off and a guaranteed equivalent job upon return due to a serious illness, to take care of a seriously ill child, spouse or parent, or for the birth/adoption of a child. Many lawmakers want to expand the leave policy in many ways: applying it to companies with only 25 employees, allowing six-month unpaid leaves, requiring paid or partial leaves, allowing leave to be taken for family-friendly circumstances (going to a PTA meeting, taking a sick family member to the doctor, etc.), providing technical corrections on what constitutes a serious illness, etc.
SEMA supports actions to clarify confusion under the current law. SEMA opposes any attempts to expand the Family Leave Act beyond its current obligations.
Legislation: Bills have been introduced covering all of the topics identified in the issues section above; however, there has been no substantial action since industry and labor are diametrically opposed on key issues and compromises are unlikely.
Regulations: The Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed changes to regulations governing the FMLA to address gray areas in the law. The agency claims that there is a need for more concise rules on managing unscheduled intermittent leave. The DOL intends to stay with the current system in which employers use their company’s timekeeping system to define the smallest amount of time that can be tracked. Workers would be required to abide by an employer’s call-in procedure for unscheduled leave, except for limited emergencies which would then require “after the fact” reporting. Employers would be allowed to contact a health-care provider to verify emergencies. The FMLA’s impact on the small business community is limited since it only applies to companies with 50 or more workers. Covered employers must allow workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off and a guaranteed equivalent job upon return from a serious illness, to take care of a seriously ill child, spouse or parent, or for the birth/adoption of a child.