Proposed Wisconsin budget may change state’s FMLA

The new governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, recently announced a proposed state budget that may change the state’s Family Medical Leave Act. The controversial budget proposal has other labor law implications as well such as the ability of public employees to retain their bargaining rights. The new governor wants to eliminate the bargaining rights of public employees except the bargaining right for increases in pay relative to inflation. Firefighter and police unions would not be affected by the proposal.

The governor of Wisconsin has proposed a scaled back version of Wisconsin’s Family Medical Leave Act in his budget repair bill. Under the proposed budget, employees would not be able to take time off under the state’s Family Medical Leave act if they work less than 25 hours per week. In addition, workers who would still qualify may have to use unpaid leave instead of sick time to attend to family medical needs and child births. Currently, employees are eligible to take appropriate time off under the Wisconsin Family Medical Leave Act if they have worked at least 1,000 hours for their employer during the preceding 52 weeks.

In 1988, Wisconsin passed its Family and Medical Leave Act under Governor Tommy Thompson. Wisconsin was one of the first states to pass its own version of the law. The Wisconsin Family Medical Leave Act expands the rights of employees beyond the federal version of the law. Generally, the Wisconsin version makes more employees eligible and offers more flexibility. Certain workers groups within the state railed against the proposal and a woman worker advocacy group told the governor to “stop his attack on families.” The governor’s budget proposal is an attempt to neutralize the lack of $137 million funds for the current budget.

Source: Rivertowns.net, “Walker’s budget roils state politics and government,” 2/15/11

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