SHRM Urges Swift Action to Restore Fairness To Family and Medical Leave Act

For Immediate Release

Jun 27, 2007
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(Alexandria, VA, June 27, 2007)—The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) today urged the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to take swift action to resolve contradictory regulations and opinions that threaten fair implementation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

SHRM's declaration follows the DOL's release today of findings that show how differing opinion letters, federal court rules and regulator guidance have clouded and sometimes undermined key provisions of the FMLA. These findings are the result of the DOL's Request for Information issued last December, which solicited comments from employers, employees and other interested parties on implementation issues with the Act.

"Based on our initial review, today's announcement by the Labor Department underscores the need to correct long-standing inequities and conflicts in how the FMLA is implemented," said Susan R. Meisinger, president and CEO of SHRM. "Employees and employers deserve clear, fair rules on family and medical leave."

SHRM conducted a survey earlier this year among its members and found that more than half of the respondents said they face 'significant challenges' in implementing the Act's medical leave provisions.

"Currently, a common illness such as sinusitis might be considered a 'serious health condition' in one organization and not in another, both under protection of the FMLA," explained Meisinger. "Without fairness and clarity, the integrity of the FMLA is threatened."

"SHRM applauds the Labor Department's efforts to initiate a dialog on this issue," said Meisinger. "We urge the agency to take the next logical step and issue new rules as soon as possible to address the documented problems."

Representing over 225,000 members, SHRM has helped document concerns about the FMLA's inconsistent and inequitable implementation. While supporting the law, SHRM has expressed concern that many regulatory and judicial actions, including a Supreme Court decision in 2002 (Ragsdale vs. Wolverine World Wide, Inc.) have added challenges to its implementation.

Signed into law by President Clinton on February 5, 1993, the FMLA allows eligible workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for birth, adoption and other serious health conditions, or to care for a seriously ill family member.

SHRM is the founder and lead organization of the National Coalition to Protect Family Leave. Additional information on the FMLA and efforts to support public policy and technical changes to it can be found at www.protectfamilyleave.org.

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