The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


February 13, 2013

Balancing Act: Family Medical Leave Act still helps families cope



The Family Medical Leave Act applies to employers with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius and people who have worked at their current employer for at least one year and 1,250 hours within the past year. The definition of ’family’ under the law is narrow; leave is not available to caregivers of parents-in-law, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, domestic partners or same-sex spouses. The act does not provide leave for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. And it does not provide any wages during periods of leave.

In 2012:

-Women made up 56 percent of employees who took leave.

-57 percent of employees reported taking leave for their own illness, 22 percent for reasons related to a new child and 19 percent to care for a parent, spouse or child with a serious health condition.

-Most leaves were relatively short. Forty percent of workers reported they were away from work for 10 days or less; 70 percent were back at work within 40 days.

-Two-thirds of workers (66 percent) reported receiving at least some pay while on leave.

-Nearly half of workers who needed leave but did not take it (46 percent) said they were unable to afford unpaid leave

-Women made up 64 percent of those who needed but did not take leave. Workers of Hispanic background were more likely than non-Hispanics to need leave but not take it.

-90 percent of worksites covered by the FMLA reported that compliance with the FMLA has had a ’positive effect’ or ’no noticeable effect’ on employee productivity, absenteeism, career advancement and morale, as well as the business’s profitability.

SOURCE: Department of Labor study, Family and Medical Leave in 2012

Cindy Krischer Goodman is CEO of BalanceGal LLC, a provider of news and advice on how to balance work and life. She can be reached at Read her columns and blog at

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