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The Family Medical Leave Act Essay

What is the FMLA law?

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was incorporated into the law in 1993. The main reason why it was signed into the law was to satisfy the needs of the workers and employers without oppression of either side. It ensures that there is a mutual benefit between the employees and the employers. It addresses the issues related to extension of medical leaves for employees including pregnancy or when there is a need to care for a family member. According to Cadrain (2008), this law is hated by many human resource managers on the fact that the implementation of the law raises problems in the case of the minorities. However, Cadrain noted that the law yields very good results to an in case it works (2008).It has been observed that FMLA has given employees an opportunity to pay attention on the oppressing needs of their close relatives without undergoing through unnecessary pressure (Cadrain, 2008).

The amendments to the FMLA to date

Recently, there have been some slight changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  Section 565 (b) of the Act provides a new entitlement to “qualifying exigency leave” for the federal employees covered by OPM’s FMLA regulations that are parallel to the entitlement provided to employees covered by the department of Labor’s FMLA (USAID, 2010).

The recent changes has also enabled the employees to use the exigency leave intermittently or on reduced leave schedule. According to USAID (2010), an employee has an opportunity to substitute the sick or the annual leave for unpaid exigency leave. Workers can now claim an FMLA leave of up to 12 administrative workweeks during the 12 month period. However, the pressing need should involve son, daughter, spouse or parent.

What does the FMLA allow of employers?

According to Murray (2008), FMLA law applies to those employers who employ at least fifty employees every working day during each of not less than 20 workweeks (Murray 2008). The law requires the employers to strictly obey this order. However, the law justifies the denial of this right incase an employee abuses the law.

What does it require of employees?

On the other hand, the employees who are covered by these laws should have worked for their respective employers for a period of one year. The duration should not necessarily be consecutive, what matter is the total period an employee has worked for an institution. For an employee to be covered by this law, he or she should have worked not less than 1,250 hours in a year before the leave. The law also requires that an employee be working in region where not less than 50 employees are employed in the location or within 75 miles.

According to Cadrain (2008), the law provides the description of a serious health condition for which an employee can be granted a leave. It requires that the condition should have caused a three days’ incapacity. It is also require that the employee be visited by a doctor twice or once followed by a process of continued care.

An employee who may be committed to other important activities which cannot be neglected is also entitled for the FMLA leave. Some of the activities for which the FMLA may be granted include taking care for family members under certain situations like grief after the death of loved ones among other activities (Cadrain, 2008).Despite some traces of complains, many human resource managers have shown optimism on this law. Many of them have proposed that this law have no significant effect on the productivity.

The Raybestos Products case (root of the problem, employee fraudulently using FMLA)

This case involves Diana L. Vail and Raybestos Products Company. According to Guerin and England (2009), Diana Vail worked with Raybestos Products Company in the night shift (p.267). Raybestos is a company that deals with manufacture of car spare parts. Vail frequently took the FMLA leave because she suffered from migraines. Whenever the condition worsened and she could no longer continue working, she proposed for FMLA leave. This increased her level of absenteeism, an act which annoyed the management of the company. For instance she took 33 days for a leave between May and September, 2005 (Guerin &England, 2009, p.267).The company suspected that Vail was misusing the leave because she bused to work part time for her husband’s mowing business. They decided to investigate this case to find out the truth. Raybestos managed to hire a police sergeant to spy on Vail. One day, Vail took FMLA leave as usual and surprisingly, she was mowing lawns the following day. Later that day, Vail called the company lying that she was getting a migraine. Unfortunately, Raybestos fired her for misusing the FMLA leave.

After being fired, Vail filed a law suit against the company accusing it for violating the FMLA leave. However, the court ruled in favor of Raybestos. The information on the intermittent absenteeism and the information gathered through the surveillance provided enough evidence that Vail really abused the FMLA leave. However, the court discouraged the method used by the company to investigate Vail.

Challenges are there for private-sector organizations in managing employee benefits in light of the many laws that relate to employee benefits? What are some laws/policies that might overlap or conflict with the FMLA?

There are several challenges that many organizations face in their effort to manage employee benefits in the light of laws that relate to employee benefits. To start with, the unscheduled medical certification causes an organization a lot of pain. For instance, a number of employees may take a medical leave which may not be scheduled (Cadrain, 2008). In this case, many activities which an organization had planned previously are interfered with. Intermittent leaves have also caused many organizations a great problem. Organizations decisions are delayed because the management is not certain about the future situations. For instance, an organization may plan for an activity to be done in the future just to realize that the vital part of the labor force necessary for that particular activity is under leave. In many a times, employees have been known to misuse the FMLA. Some employees are using fake medical certification. This leads to an abuse of this law making it difficult for the company to identify genuine claims. This again threatens the overall productivity of the employees.

Conclusion

From the above discussion, it can be concluded that the FMLA can be beneficial to both the employer and the employees if used properly. However, the law leads to very negative consequences if misused. The law becomes effective only when used in a genuine way.