Survey Finds FMLA Change Support

March 11, 2008 ( - A new survey has found strong public support for efforts to tune up the 15-year-old Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

A news release from the National Coalition to Protect Family Leave, which sponsored the poll, said 52% of respondents contended FMLA adjustments were needed, while 28% pushed for leaving the law alone. H owever, when respondents learned how FMLA was actually working in the workplace, support for regulatory corrections increased dramatically.

For example, the announcement said when respondents learned employees can take FMLA leave during regular hours and then work overtime shifts that same week to collect higher wages, support for amendments skyrocketed, with 75% saying modifications were needed and 20% saying they were not.

A majority (59%) of those surveyed said there was a “serious” potential for FMLA misuse. Nearly half (46%) could cite at least one occasion where they suspected “a fellow employee who claimed to be taking time off for family or medical reasons was really using it for something else.”

The announcement said 34% of respondents said sporadic, unannounced leave by co-workers – makes them less productive on the job.

On February 11, 2008, the Department of Labor released a set of proposed regulatory changes to the FMLA (See DoL Proposes FMLA Changes ). The survey results indicated strong levels of support for many of the concepts embodied in the proposed rule changes, including:

  • 88% of Americans support “requiring employees who wish to take FMLA leave to get their ‘serious medical conditions’ recertified by a health care provider once a year or every six months.”
  • 73% of voters approved of “allowing employers to speak directly to a worker’s health care provider when he or she is ready to return to work after taking FMLA leave to ensure that the worker is able to resume working and will not pose a danger either to himself or herself or to other employees.”

“This survey revealed two critical facts about Americans’ attitude toward the FMLA,” said Coalition Representative Lisa Horn, in the news release. “First, Americans strongly support the FMLA and believe it provides important protections to American workers. Second, they also believe that after 15 years it’s time to take a step back and make some reasonable modifications to make the law work better for both employees and employers.”

The poll represents the results of a nationwide telephone survey of 1,000 registered voters from February 7-12, 2008.

According to its Web site, the coalition supports public policy that will strengthen the Family and Medical Leave Act “to ensure FMLA leave is available to those employees Congress intended to cover, ” and “end the misuse of medical leave that threatens the integrity of this important law. “

More information is at .