The FMLA (“Family Medical Leave Act”) is an incredibly important law in today’s work place. It allows for expecting fathers and mothers, caring parents, and employees with serious health conditions to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave away from work with the guarantee that when they return, their job will be waiting for them. The biggest problem with the FMLA, however, is that unlike most discrimination laws which only require the employer to have 15-20 employees total, the FMLA only applies to those workplaces that have 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius. What this means is that even if you work for a huge company, but work at an office that has 50 or less employees within 75 miles, you are not protected by the FMLA. The Department of Labor estimates that, as a result of these restrictions, approximately 30-35 million employees are not covered by the FMLA. That is a staggering number in my opinion.
Another important aspect of the FMLA requires that an employee, who works for a covered employer (50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius), to have worked for the employer for at least one year and have worked 1,250 or more hours during that year (essentially a full time employee). Therefore, even if your employer is covered, and you have not worked for at least one year in a full time capacity, you are not eligible for FMLA protection.
So, what has to change? There is chatter in Washington, D.C., that the Department of Labor is looking to expand the protections of the FMLA to smaller employers, and eliminate that 50 employee barrier. If this happens, it would be a huge victory for employee rights. Most traditional employment laws (discrimination/harassment) cover roughly 70 percent of the American workforce. If the FMLA size requirement gets reduced to something similar to the 15-20 employee mark, close to 70% of the American workforce will have the necessary protections in place to protect their jobs as well. Isn’t that good business for employers too? Most employers will say no because the truth of the matter is the fact that employers think as follows: Sick- employees are a detriment to profitability. Absent employees are a detriment to profitability. Pregnant employees are a detriment to profitability. Disabled employees are a detriment to profitability. Whistleblowers are a detriment to profitability. Complainers are a detriment to profitability. And, if no laws were in place to protect these employees, employers would be firing them left and right, day and night. Even with the laws in place today, my office gets flooded with calls from employees whose rights have been violated.
The first step is to educate yourself. If you want a FREE copy of my new book, The Employee Survival Guide for the Workplace, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want me to evaluate your employment situation for free, you can email me or call me toll free, day or night, at 866-344-9243 (Wage). If given the chance, employers will trample your rights. Let me help you fight back.