FMLA Leave Cost Employers $21 Billion in 2004

April 25, 2005 ( - Compliance with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) cost employers $21 billion in 2004, according to a study from the Employment Policy Foundation (EPF).

According to the report by the Washington-based think tank , direct costs of FMLA leave include labor replacement costs, continuation of group health benefits, as well as lost productivity. The telecommunications and transportation industries were the hardest hit on the year, paying 2.4% and 3.2% of their labor costs for compliance with FMLA leave, respectively.

Overall on the year, 14.5% of employees took leave, with 35% of those taking leave more than once during the year, according to the survey. The number of workers taking multiple leaves has risen dramatically since 2000, the survey also found; in 2004, the figure was 50% higher than it was in 2000.

The survey also found that 30% of FMLA leave is intermittent – comprising shorter periods of leave – throughout the year and without prior notice to employers. Fifty percent notified employers on the day they left or after. Under the law, an employee has up to two days after being absent from the workplace to inform their employer the absence was FMLA leave.

The report looked at employers of more than 500,000 employees about FMLA use and extent of intermittent leave and advance notice.