As more states consider expanding their family and medical leave laws, some HR professionals are worried about how these efforts could create confusion and inequity among employees. For example, SHRM's Wisconsin State Council voiced concerns over a proposed military leave bill that would expand the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act (WFMLA) to include leave associated with military deployments.
As currently drafted, the legislation would grant unpaid family leave when an employee, an employee's spouse, or a child of an employee that has been called to active service for a period of 30 days or more. At organizations with 15 to 50 employees, workers would be entitled to 15 days of unpaid leave per year; at organization with more than 50 employees, the leave benefit increases to 30 days per year.
In testimony submitted last week, the Wisconsin State Council noted that S.B. 173 would significantly expand an already cumbersome and confusing employment law by providing new leave benefits to certain employees not currently eligible under either the WFMLA or the federal FMLA. Although the legislation is well-intentioned, adding a military leave benefit to the WFMLA would compound problems that Wisconsin employers have experienced with the current state and federal leave laws.
In February, SHRM submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Laborhighlighting problems that HR professionals have encountered with the FMLA when considering family and medical leave requests.
SHRM considers this an important issue for military families and will explore how current concerns can be addressed.