Not yet a Member?
HR Magazine is highlighting the next generation of HR leaders.
Is your employee handbook ready for the New Year? With SHRM’s Employee Handbook Builder get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date.
Get the HR education you need without travel expenses or time out of the office.
Join us in Chicago for the latest trends and technology in talent management, and what to expect in the future.
Tidy Up FMLA Before Expanding Military Leave
Before trying to extend time-off benefits for military families, Congress should first address long-standing problems with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a SHRM member has told Congress.
“While the goal of extending the FMLA to cover military families is laudable, SHRM would encourage policy makers to proceed with caution in advancing [certain] proposals in order to limit any unintended consequences for employees, caregivers and employers,” said Christine Vion-Gillespie, an employee relations and compliance manager with the North Carolina-based SAS Institute. Vion-Gillespie represented the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) at a Sept. 18, 2007, hearing before the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections.
Vion-Gillespie said the Department of Labor’s broad interpretation of the law placed employers in an untenable position.
“Almost anything, after three days and a doctor’s visit, now qualifies as a serious medical condition,” she said.
She also said the provisions allowing employees to take spot leave created administrative challenges for businesses.
“It is often difficult to track an employee’s unscheduled, intermittent leave usage, particularly when the employee takes FMLA leave in small increments,” she said.
Unscheduled leave often strains businesses and their staffs when they must cover the absent employee’s workload by reallocating the work to others, she said.
Vion-Gillespie said a proposal to allow military families to take FMLA leave to deal with certain exigencies arising from a call to duty was overly broad. The provision “would appear to authorize leave for a wide range of purposes from providing or arranging child care to coaching a child’s baseball team, to even taking on the spouse’s household chores,” she said.
Vion-Gillespie also criticized the openendedness of a Senate-passed proposal that extends FMLA benefits to military families to up to six months. If signed into law, the provision could lead to additional compliance problems for employers, she said.
Vion-Gillespie noted that companies have other options for easing the burden on military families. Steps taken by her company include:
Rita Zeidner is manager of the SHRM Online HR Technology Focus Area.
You have successfully saved this page as a bookmark.
Please confirm that you want to proceed with deleting bookmark.
You have successfully removed bookmark.
Please log in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Your session has expired. Please log in again before saving bookmarks.
Please purchase a SHRM membership before saving bookmarks.
An error has occurred
Recommended for you
Choose from dozens of free webcasts on the most timely HR topics.
SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 3,200 companies