You may have missed it, but the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, turned 20 years old last month. Although the purpose of the FMLA may be a noble one — providing employees unpaid leave from work for treatment of their own serious health condition, or to care for and comfort family members who are ill — employers who have had to navigate the often choppy waters of administrating the FMLA may not feel like celebrating. You wouldn’t think that would be the case, however, based on a new survey recently released by the U.S. Department of Labor, which suggests complying with the FMLA is more like a pleasure cruise.  According to that survey (here’s the part you better sit down for):

  •  85% of employers report that complying with the FMLA is very easy, somewhat easy, or has no noticeable effect on their operations.

It gets better. 91% of employers reported that complying with the FMLA has either no noticeable effect, or a positive effect, on business operations, such as absenteeism, turnover, and employee morale.  The survey also reported that 91% of workers returned to their employer after FMLA leave, showing little risk to businesses that investment in a worker would be lost as a result of leave granted under the FMLA.  Finally, according to the survey, fewer than 2% of covered worksites reported confirmed misuse of FMLA, and fewer than 3% of covered worksites reported suspicion of FMLA misuse.

 Are you sitting down yet?

If you’re scratching your head trying to understand the U.S. Department of Labor’s survey, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Although an in-depth analysis of the survey is beyond the scope of this article, employers that we have worked with know that, in the real world,   administering the FMLA, with its myriad of regulations, can indeed be challenging at times.  In fact, a survey conducted a few years ago by the Society for Human Resource Management showed that more than 60% of human resource professionals found it difficult to comply with the FMLA.

Although we view with a healthy amount of skepticism the U.S. Department of Labor’s claim that most employers find it “easy” to comply with the FMLA, the attorneys in KDDK’s Labor and Employment Practice team can help you feel confident that your organization is FMLA-compliant and stays that way.  If you have any questions about the FMLA, please don’t hesitate to contact Mark McAnulty, or any of the other attorneys in KDDK’s Labor and Employment Practice team.

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