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March 13, 2001
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mily leave is like 911, you don't use it unless you truly need it, but it's critically important when you do," said Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), author of The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

According to Department of Labor (DOL) 2000 Family and Medical Leave Surveys, the Act had a positive effect, or no noticeable effect, on business productivity, profitability, and growth for more than 80 percent of covered employers.

"Thankfully, this report indicates that family and medical leave is doing what it should helping families," says Dodd, "but now we need to do more to ensure that even more people can access its benefits."

Workers surveyed by DOL reported overwhelming support for the ideas embodied in the FMLA. Since 1993, the law has benefited over 35 million covered and eligible workers who still face the challenge of balancing work and family.

Unfortunately, one major problem with leaves was that more than half of workers who took leave still faced the problem of having enough money to pay bills. The most common reason for not taking the leave was being unable to afford it. One-third of employees received no pay during their longest leave, and two out of every five leave takers had to cut their leave short due to lost pay.

Senator Dodd has introduced legislation in the past, and is expected to introduce legislation in this session, to increase the number of workers covered by family leave and a measure to make taking leave more affordable.

by Nancy Hatch Woodward, contributing editor of Best Practices in Benefits & Compensation

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