HR Pros Say Leave Policies Lenient

January 8, 2001 ( - Most employers are going above and beyond the requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but employees aren't making it easy, according to a new survey of HR professionals.

Nearly two-thirds (66%) of respondents said their organization offers job-protected leave to employees that have not met the coverage requirements.

The 2000 FMLA Survey, conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), also found that:

  • 68% allow leave to go to a routine dental/doctor appointment with a child.
  • 63% allow employees to take leave to attend parent-teacher conference and the first day of school.
  • 62% allow leave to go to a routine medical/dental appointment with an elderly parent, and a like number for a routine appointment for a child.

Leave Law

The law, which has been in effect since 1993, provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for the birth or adoption of a new child, for an employee’s own serious health condition, or the serious health condition of a family member.

The law also requires employers to continue health insurance coverage during the leave, along with certain recordkeeping requirements.

The leave is available to any individual who has worked at an organization at least one year and has worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months.

No Warning

However, on average 60% of survey respondents say that employees who take FMLA leave do not schedule the leave in advance, creating the potential for disruptions in workflow and coverage. The burden generally falls to employees who are not on leave, according to the survey.

More than half of survey respondents (52%) say they have had to grant FMLA requests they felt were not legitimate, while more then a third (34%) were aware of employee complaints over the past year regarding a co-worker’s questionable use of FMLA leave.

Minute By Minute

Three-quarters (76%) said compliance with the law would be easier if the Department of Labor allowed FMLA leave to be offered and tracked in half-day increments rather than by minutes.

The SHRM FMLA Survey incorporates the responses of 790 human resource professionals nationwide.