When the Family and Medical Leave Act went into effect Aug. 5, 1993, great hopes were placed on the legislation, one of the first signed by new President Bill Clinton. And, with few exceptions, the act has been a success in providing job protections for those facing serious health issues or who are responsible for helping seriously ill family members.
As the 17th anniversary approaches, it would be easy to assume employers as well as employees now have a good understanding of this important protection. Despite claims by the Department of Labor touting the success of the FMLA and the ease of administering associated leave, a high number of employers continue to struggle with issues such as record-keeping, determining eligibility, and coordinating with other leave and attendance policies under state and federal law.
Additionally, there seems to be a small percentage of workers who understand the system all too well, and take the opportunity to use it to their personal advantage.
Finding a way to deal with employees suspected of abusing FMLA protections is a continuing source of frustrations for employers who are otherwise happy to do everything possible to help when their workers need the protected leave, says labor and employment attorney Carrie Hoffman of the Dallas office of Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP. “FMLA provides few rights to employers to curb potential abuse of this very important leave, and when employees abuse FMLA it can wreak havoc on workplace productivity, leaving not only the employer, but also coworkers to suffer.”