Ten years after the enactment of the Family and Medical Leave Act, workers'
advocates are pushing to expand the law, and human-resource professionals are
asking the government to clarify what medical conditions qualify an employee
for leave under the act.
In the San Francisco Chronicle, Stephanie Bornstein and Charlotte Fishman,
staff attorneys with Equal Rights Advocates, wrote that they want Congress to
expand FMLA to cover employers with fewer than 50 employees.
The advocates also say many workers eligible for FMLA leave don't take it because
they cannot afford to take unpaid leave. Bornstein and Fishman urge lawmakers
in federal and state government to follow California's lead and give workers the right to paid family and
medical leave. They also call on more employers to boost the amount of sick
leave, offer flexible work schedules, and help with child care.
Meanwhile, the Society for Human Resource Management is requesting that the
Department of Labor specify through regulations what medical conditions qualify
"At this point, organizations are struggling with employees who request
the use of FMLA medical leave for minor ailments such as pink-eye and sore throats,"
says Susan R. Meisinger, president and CEO of SHRM. "The inconsistencies
and contrary definitions from the Department of Labor have served to chill the
voluntary expansion of paid leave policies in some workplaces."