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20-year FMLA anniversary shows there is still work to do

Most people in Wisconsin are probably unaware that yesterday marked a very important anniversary in employment law history. On Feb. 5, 1993, the Family Medical Leave Act was enacted to strengthen families and employment rights by allowing workers to take job-protected leaves to give birth or adopt a child, or deal with a serious illness or that of a family member. As some people may recall, prior to the FMLA, people often lost their jobs when these family events occurred.

While yesterday was a day to celebrate working families and the FMLA, some people have also taken the opportunity to say that more needs to be done to advance this area of law. As it stands, FMLA leaves do not have to be paid by employers, and not all employers are even required to offer FMLA leaves.

The FMLA only applies to employers that have at least 50 employees. In order to take an FMLA leave, employees must have worked for a covered employer for 52 weeks, having put in at least 1,250 hours during the 52 weeks that immediately precede the leave.

Here in Wisconsin, a state FMLA law does extend these rights somewhat by covering additional employers and employees.

In addition to these issues, critics say the law needs to be expanded to cover caregivers. For example, employees can often take FMLA leaves to care for an ill spouse or child, but not a sibling or someone else who may be in their care.

Of course, many people here in Wisconsin and throughout the country have benefitted from FMLA by being able to take time off of work to care for themselves or their families. Unfortunately, many others are either not protected by the FMLA or their employers have wrongly denied FMLA leaves.

Source: Huffington Post, "FMLA Anniversary: Celebrating 20 Years of Strengthening Families," Linda Meric, Feb. 4, 2013

  • Our employment law firm in Milwaukee helps people nationwide to stand up for their rights to take a leave after the birth of a baby or to care for an ill family member. To learn more about the Family Medical Leave Act and your employment rights, please visit our website.

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