How We Use the FMLA

Being unable to afford it is the most common reason for not taking needed leave.

Most of us never use the Family and Medical Leave Act, in fact, especially when we're worried about our jobs or our finances. But our working population is older and we're less healthy than our parents, by and large. Those trends may be changing how we utilize FMLA as its second decade comes to an end.

The Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division will survey 3,000 people on how the employees and managers in their workplaces utilize the act. WHD said it needs to collect new information on the use and need of FMLA leave to update the department's understanding of leave-taking behavior and close current data gaps remaining from two previous surveys.

The plan is to finish collecting survey data by Jan. 14, 2012.

The first survey of workers and employers was conducted in 1995, two years after Congress passed the act, by the bipartisan Commission on Family and Medical Leave and produced "A Workable Balance: Report to Congress on Family and Medical Leave Policies" (www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/1995Report/family.htm). This report says two-thirds of covered work sites had changed their policies in response to the act, with 69.3 percent providing leave for fathers to care for seriously ill or newborn children. Only 32.3 percent of not covered work sites offered parental leave, and only 41.7 percent offered leave to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, or parent.

Five years later came the second survey, done by Westat at DOL's request. "Balancing the Needs of Families and Employers: Family and Medical Leave Surveys, 2000 Update" (www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/toc.htm) found no change in the percentage of employees who took FMLA leave -- 16.5 percent versus 16.0 percent in 1995 -- but why they took leave had shifted. "Employees taking leave in 2000 were less likely to leave for their own health than were employees in 1995, and more likely to take leave for other reasons such as maternity-disability, care for a newborn or newly placed foster or adoptive child, care for a spouse, or care for a parent," the report states, adding that the reasons for this shift were unclear.

The percentage of employees who said they needed leave but could not take it declined from 3.1 percent in 1995 to 2.4 percent in 2000. In both surveys, being unable to afford it was the most common reason (cited by 77.6 percent) for not taking needed leave.

This article originally appeared in the July 2011 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • The Top 5 Safety and Technology Trends to Watch in 2019

    Get the latest on trends you can expect to hear more about in 2019, including continued growth of mobile safety applications, wearable technology, and smart PPE; autonomous vehicles; pending OSHA recordkeeping rulemaking; and increased adoption of international safety standard, ISO 45001.

  • Get the Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    OSHA’s Form 300A posting deadline is February 1! Are you prepared? To help answer your key recordkeeping questions, IndustrySafe put together this guide with critical compliance information.

  • Safety Training 101

    When it comes to safety training, no matter the industry, there are always questions regarding requirements and certifications. We’ve put together a guide on key safety training topics, requirements for certifications, and answers to common training questions.

  • Conduct EHS Inspections and Audits

    Record and manage your organization’s inspection data with IndustrySafe’s Inspections module. IndustrySafe’s pre-built forms and checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • Industry Safe

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - January 2019

    January 2019

    Featuring:

    • PREVENTING ERRORS
      Production vs. Safety 
    • EMERGENCY SHOWERS & EYEWASH
      Meeting the Requirements for Emergency Equipment
    • CONSTRUCTION SAFETY
      The State of Contractor Safety
    • FOOT PROTECTION
      The Three Keys to Effective Chemical Management
    View This Issue