Benefits & Compensation News

Are they serious? DOL says FMLA is easy for employers

The DOL celebrated the 20th birthday of the FMLA by publishing a survey many of you will probably find laughable.

The survey titled Family and Medical Leave Act in 2012: Final Report was conducted in conjunction with the DOL by Abt Associates, a public policy, business research and consulting firm. It surveyed 1,812 work sites and 2,852 employees about their experiences with family and medical leave.

Here are the results the DOL published:

  • 85% of employers reported complying with the FMLA is “very easy,” “somewhat easy,” or has had “no noticeable effect”
  • Fewer than 2% of covered work sites reported confirmed misuse of the FMLA, and
  • Fewer than 3% of covered work sites reported suspicion of FMLA abuse by employees.

Really? Do you believe any of that?

Skeptics everywhere

Labor and employment law attorneys are already questioning the findings. Even NPR issued a report on Feb. 5, the 20th anniversary of the day President Clinton signed the FMLA, stating that the law hasn’t worked out as planned for employers or employees.

And if you’re a fan of HR Benefits Alert or our sister site HR Morning, you know the FMLA has long been a thorn in the side of HR and benefits pros.

The DOL’s findings are also vastly different from a similar survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), FMLA and Its Impact on Organizations, which was conducted a few years ago.

In it, 63% of HR pros said the FMLA was “difficult” or “somewhat difficult” to comply with, and 39% said that due to DOL regulations and interpretations they’ve granted leave requests they perceived to be illegitimate.

Other DOL findings

Some of the other nuggets to come out of the DOL’s report:

  • 91% of employers said complying with the FMLA has had either a “positive effect” or “no noticeable effect” on employee absenteeism, turnover and morale
  • 24% of employers said a relatively small portion of leave taken for FMLA reasons is intermittent leave
  • 13% of all employees reported taking leave for an FMLA reason in the past 12 months
  • Nearly 60% of employees meet all criteria for coverage and eligibility under the FMLA, and
  • Fewer than 2% of employees who take intermittent leave are off for a day or less.
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