Family Leave Law Tweaks Considered

May 06, 2005

By George Anderson

No one, publicly at least, is calling for the federal family leave law to be scrapped, but business owners and regulators believe some changes are needed to make it work for employees and employers alike.

Michael Eastman, director of labor policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said, “The problem is the small but significant minority of employees who have figured out how to abuse the regulations. Maybe they have been certified for a medical condition like a bad back or migraine headaches. But when you look at their attendance records, you find they are routinely absent on Friday afternoons.”

Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, is concerned that changes to the regulations will essentially gut the advancements made with its adoption. “My sense is a lot of moms are going to get presents like chocolates and flowers (on Mother’s Day). But if you ask them what they really want, a lot of them would say more time with their family, especially newborns.”

Victoria Lipnic, assistant secretary for employment standards at the Department of Labor, said fears about weakening the family leave regulations are overblown. “No one has suggested in any way that there’s any need for wholesale change,” she said.

Moderator’s Comment: Have Family Leave laws impacted retailers more than other businesses? Are changes needed to the federal statutes? What types of
revisions, to strengthen or weaken the law, would you like to see made?

George Anderson – Moderator

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3 Comments on "Family Leave Law Tweaks Considered"

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David Livingston
17 years 23 days ago
My #1 employee (me) is taking May off so I can care for my wife who is getting a hip replaced. I could just toss her into a nursing home so I could hit the road and get some work done. But staying home is just something I have to do. Being self-employed, my clients will not be so understanding. I have no Federal protection so I’m left out to fend for myself. My clients have millions of dollars at stake and they are not going to put life on hold while I’m taking care of my wife. I will just have to find a way to get the work done or risk missing out. And I will find a way to get the work done. Don’t expect me to have too much compassion on this issue. Everybody has family problems sometimes that require time off. Just don’t expect to get paid or promoted if you take too much time off. It affects all businesses the same. The laws in place are fine and plenty… Read more »
Bernice Hurst
17 years 23 days ago

Here we go again, trying to legislate something that should be easily and amicably resolved on a case by case basis within organisations. I can’t see any excuse for retailers to cry “poor little me” any more than any other employer and I can’t see any excuse for any employer not to talk directly to an employee they think may be abusing the system. Get off it, there are far more important things to worry about – like maintaining sufficiently good relationships to encourage employees not to abuse the system and want to come to work.

Mark Burr
17 years 23 days ago
As with anything that’s good, it still can be improved. In this case, it’s likely that there could be improvements for both the worker and the employer. Things like this should be reviewed periodically, especially since it’s relatively new and experience breeds knowledge that could make the act better for both concerned. I don’t think anyone is suggesting that it be abolished. Like the ADA, there is considerable abuse once you have to legislate folks into doing the right thing in the first place. The ADA became an item that began with good intentions and became a haven for abuse. I would not like to see this happen with the family leave act. After all, it is ‘unpaid.’ That in itself should limit the abuse but one never knows the motivation of the abuser or the abused themselves. Interestingly enough, the article came from the home of abuse by the worker and the safe home of an endangered species – the union worker. Leave it to the land of the UAW to abuse a good… Read more »

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