Magazine article Personnel Journal

FMLA: Family-Friendliness Gets Legal-Eased

Magazine article Personnel Journal

FMLA: Family-Friendliness Gets Legal-Eased

Article excerpt

Even laws written in the past five years tend to have the 1930s' employee-protectionism ring to them. Take the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The human resources professionals at Newark, New Jerseybased Prudential will tell you how this employee-friendly law actually makes it harder for the company to be friendly to employees.

Before President Bill Clinton signed the FMLA into law in 1993, Prudential was offering more generous leave than required by the law-and it was handling employee leaves in a way that best worked for the company. Now HR professionals spend valuable time trying to decide how to handle such complications as an employee's intermittent leave for migraine headacheswhat exactly qualifies as intermittent leave to begin with? So far, Prudential has been recommending as much flexibility as possible in such situations. The employee may go home and nurse the migraine, and return to work if he or she feels better--or work at home, work on the weekends or pull an impromptu night shift.

This isn't just HR being goodhearted: It's law that the employee gets to leave, but the work still needs to get done. "You want to provide flexibility and allow an employee time off to address a serious health condition, but you still have to address your business needs," explains John Teehan, personnel policies consultant.

That's what many HR professionals believe the FMLA has failed to address -business needs. The Act demands that companies bend over backward to assist employees, but it also demands that companies bend over backward to meet Department of Labor (DOL) administrative requirements. …

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