WPI reports on Senate FMLA hearing
On February 13, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee on Children and Families held a hearing on the past success and future challenges of the Family and Medical Leave Act. A report from The Source newsletter (published by Women's Policy, Inc., a non-profit organization that tracks women's issues in Congress) highlights testimony by Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Victoria Lipnic of the Department of Labor, Deborah Ness of the National Partnership for Women and Families, and Katheryn Elliot on behalf of the Society for Human Resources Management, a business-friendly professional association.
Proposed changes to current FMLA
regulations were a topic of discussion at the hearing (although the hearing was
not scheduled specifically to debate the merits of regulatory changes -- the
Labor Department only released full details of its proposal on February 11, and
policy analysts from the National Partnership are currently reviewing the text). The day's testimony both confirmed and
reflected the concerns of advocates for working families that the new
regulations would further limit the ability of workers to take FMLA leave when
they need it. As Deborah Ness remarked:
"While the anniversary and expansion of the FMLA are cause for celebration, we are also very concerned for the vitality of the law given that the Department of Labor is proposing new FMLA regulations…the FMLA is working well. It does not need any significant regulatory changes. Rather, we should be looking at how we can expand it so more workers can realize its promise of job-protected leave in times of need...The Department has devoted a great deal of its 2007 report to the use of intermittent unscheduled leave and the problems employers claim to have with this part of the FMLA, and we fully expect that this will be an issue in the Department’s proposed regulatory changes. But because it has not surveyed employers or employees on this issue since 2000, the Department’s analysis was based heavily on anecdotes and self-reporting from employers regarding the use of unscheduled intermittent leave. The data, however, shows that unscheduled intermittent leave is a very small part of the leave taken under the FMLA and that the vast majority of FMLA-covered establishments do not have any problem with unscheduled intermittent leave.”
The full story is available on the WPI web site. Subscription to The Source newsletter is free, and highly recommended for activists and advocates interested in federal action on issues affecting women, children, and families.