|Objective||To critically discuss the FMLA, including how it relates to other labor laws and leaves in New York State.|
|Body (1)||Discuss: Basic federal regulations of FMLA, guidelines for eligibility (employers & employees) and benefits|
|Body (2)||Discuss how the FMLA is related to other laws such as the short-term disability act in New York State. Its relationship with other types of leaves such as vacation, maternity and paternity leaves is also discussed|
|Conclusion||FMLA has greatly assisted employees to balance their work roles with other family or personal needs|
Prior to the introduction in 1993 of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), many workers in the United Sates of America were ostensibly unable to achieve an adequate balance between their work-related responsibilities and other obligations outside of work.
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However, workers can now adequately achieve a near balance between work and non-work related roles, thanks to this specific Act which was signed into law in February 1993 by the 42nd president of the U.S., Bill Clinton, and took full effect on August 5 2003 (Cartmell, 2010).
The FMLA recognizes the ever rising need of balancing work roles with family obligations, and guarantees many protections and benefits to workers. It is the object of this paper to critically discuss the Act, including how it relates to other labor laws and leaves in New York State.
In its most basic level, the FMLA is a federal labor law that requires large employers to avail to eligible employees a 12 week job-secured unpaid leave on an annual basis due to a multiplicity of legitimate reasons which may incapacitate an employee from performing his or her job-related responsibilities (Meyers, 2005).
An employee is eligible to request for the leave in the event of a serious health condition, illness of a close family member or relative, or to care for a new-born child that may either be biologically related to the employee or adopted. According to Vikesland (2006), “…FMLA can be taken on an intermittent basis allowing the employee to work on a less than full-time schedule” (para. 3).
The Act, though applied differently by various states across the U.S. due to divergent regional regulations, is guided by similar underlying principles. For instance, FMLA only applies to organizations that employ over 50 members of staff within 75 miles of their physical location or worksite (Vikesland, 2006). However, all public agencies are required to avail FMLA to their employees regardless of the number employed.
It should be noted that prior to passage of the Act into law, the provision of leave for private, family, or health reasons was holistically left to the discretion of individual employers, who could not only deny employees an opportunity to proceed on leave for any reason, but also sack or discriminate upon those who proceeded on leave for family or medical reasons.
Still, employees were not sure if their requests to proceed on leave would be treated consistently in the event of changing jobs within the same organization, and were also not certain if they would be readmitted to the same job ranks and benefits upon return from leave (Vikesland, 2006; Aitchison, 2003).
To be eligible for FMLA, a worker must first and foremost be employed by a company which has already employed 50 or more workers within a 75-mile radius of their location or worksite, or be employed by a public agency such as schools, police department, public hospitals, and other state, local, and federal organizations (Vikesland, 2006).
The employee must also have offered services to that particular employer for a period not less than 12 months, and must have worked for the employee for at least 1,250 hours within the last calendar year. However, the 12 months period do not necessarily have to be consecutive.
The FMLA comes with guarantees, protections and benefits for employees. For instance, eligible workers taking the leave must be restored back to the same job position upon leave termination or be offered with a position that is considerably equivalent in pay, benefits, and responsibilities in the event that the employee’s former position is no longer available (Aitchison, 2003).
In addition to protection of employee benefits when the worker commences leave, he or she is also entitled to restoration of all the benefits that were entitled to the individual prior to commencing leave.
What’s more, the Act not only protects the rights of employees against interference by the employer, but also protects them from retaliation by an employer or company for exercising their rights as envisaged in the Act. However, an eligible worker must furnish the employer with 30 day advance notice for predictable circumstances.
In New York State, FMLA is inherently related to other state labor laws and leaves such as Short-Term Disability Act, sick time, paternity leave, maternity leave, and vacation leave for personal, family or medical reasons.
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Employees who are temporarily unable to handle their job-related roles for medical reasons may receive a paid leave of up to 26 weeks in a calendar year, while those seeking leave due to pregnancy, childbirth, and other related exigencies such as seeking time to bond with children or to adopt a new child are entitled to a partial wage of not less than 50% of their salary, paid by the state temporary disability insurance (Taylor, 2010).
Owing to the fact that the FMLA is an unpaid leave, many employers are confused on how to treat other leaves such as the paternity and maternity leaves, and only pay benefits entitled to employees in the event that the employee had already used the maximum number of days allowed for FMLA.
According to Guerin (2010), an employee “…can always use accrued paid leave that is characterized as vacation or personal leave… [and may] substitute accrued sick or family leave for FMLA” (para. 8).
In addition, the employer has the mandate to request an employee to use accumulated vacation or personal days during the unpaid FMLA leave. All in all, it can be argued that the FMLA has so far remained effective in balancing employees’ work-related responsibilities with their personal or family needs.
Aitchison, W. (2003). The FMLA: Understanding the Family and Medical Leave Act. Portland, OR: Labor Relations Information System.
Guerin, L. (2010). Taking Family & Medical Leave. Web.
Taylor, A. (2010). New York State Family Medical Leave Act Laws. Web.
Vikesland, G. (2006). The Family & Medical Leave Act: Balancing work and family. Web.