The Employment Standards Administration wants employers, insurers, labor groups and others to tell it how the Family and Medical Leave Act really works.
The wage and hour division at the ESA, an arm of the U.S. Department of Labor, today published a formal request for comments in the Federal Register.
Comments are due Feb. 2, 2007.
Congress enacted the FMLA in 1993, and the Labor Department released the regulations that implement the act in 1995.
The law requires private employers with 50 or more employees and some government employers to provide eligible employees with up to a total of 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period for the birth of a child; for the placement of a child for adoption or foster care; to care for a newborn or newly placed child; to care for a spouse, parent, son or daughter with a serious health condition; or when the employee is unable to work due to the employee’s own serious health condition.
Affected employers must maintain the employee’s health coverage while the employee is on leave and reinstate the employee in the same job or an equivalent job after the employee returns from the leave.
The Labor Department has gathered feedback on the program from employers and others through stakeholder meetings and through public responses to requests for comments on the costs and benefits of the FMLA.
“Employers report to the department that they recognize the value of the FMLA and attempt to comply with its requirements,” officials write in a preamble to the list of questions.
Few employers have complained about the requirements to provide family leave, for employees who are having or adopting children, or for use of intermittent leave that is scheduled in advance, such as use of FMLA leave for chemotherapy treatments, officials write.
Instead, officials write, employers are complaining about the effects of provisions that require employers to let employees take frequent, unscheduled, intermittent leaves with little or no advance notice to the employer.
Surveys have suggested that about 40% of employees covered by the FMLA have no idea that the FMLA exists, but some employees who are intimately familiar with the law use it as an excuse to come to work late, officials write.