Last night, my Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl.
Today, the FMLA turns 25.
Over the past 25 years, it is estimated that employees have used the Family Medical and Leave Act over 200 million times to take job-protected, unpaid time off work to address their own serious medical condition or care for a family member.
And yet, in those 25 years, Congress has only amended the law once, to provide for military family leave.
There is still so much more to accomplish in regards to time off for the American worker, by expanding the FMLA to cover:
- Workers in businesses with fewer than 50 employees
- Paid leave
- Workers who need time to care for adult children, domestic partners, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren and other close family members
- Workers who need time to attend a child’s school meetings or other important activities for their children
- Workers who need time to address the effects of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault
I can hear the employer complaints now.
“The FMLA is already hard enough to manage.”
All I’m suggesting is adding categories of leave, which should not greatly add to your administrative burden.
“Employees will abuse the system and take advantage.”
That’s not an FMLA issue. That’s an employee management issue. Yes, some employees will abuse, and they should be fired. But, the risk of abuse is not a reason to offer protections to employees.
So today, I call on Congress and the White House to do more to protect the sanctity of the family by looking at reasonable expansions to the FMLA to offer greater protections to workers who need time off from work, and job protections, for things like family care, domestic violence and sexual assault, and children’s activities.
No employee should be forced to choose between their own health and their job, or the health of a loved one and their job, or going to see their child perform in a school play and their job.
Employees are entitled to have personal lives and jobs. It never should be an either/or proposition.
Oh, and back to the Super Bowl. Don’t fret employers. I’m not proposing that the FMLA protects Super Bowl Monday. Well, at least not in cities other than Philly today.
Jon Hyman is a partner at Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis in Cleveland. Comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Hyman’s blog at Workforce.com/PracticalEmployer.