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Action Alert: Invigorate, Don't Decimate, the Family and Medical Leave Act

by NOW
The Department of Labor has asked us to tell them what we think about the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and we have a week to tell them: "Invigorate, do not decimate, the Family and Medical Leave Act".
Action Alert: Invigorate, Don't Decimate, the Family and Medical Leave Act

The Department of Labor has asked us to tell them what we think about the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and we have a week to tell them: "Invigorate, do not decimate, the Family and Medical Leave Act".

Send your comments http://www.capwiz.com/now/issues/alert/?alertid=9334416#action and spread the word.

In response to complaints from the Chamber of Commerce and big business owners, the U.S. Department of Labor has issued a request for public comments related to the regulation and administration of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Since this administration is no friend of working families, we know this is an initial step toward blocking even more families from taking the unpaid leave provided by the FMLA. We must show our support of FMLA to ensure that policies for productive workers and healthy families are in place.

Send your comments in support of FMLA before Friday, February 16.

Background:

The Family and Medical Leave Act has helped hard-working people balance their work and family responsibilities. Since 1993, the FMLA has provided essential protections for millions of workers who need time off for their own or a family member's serious illness, or to care for a newborn or newly adopted child. This guaranteed, albeit unpaid, leave is currently available and being used by millions of parents and caregivers.

The majority of U.S. employers covered by the Act [note: all public sector employers are covered and 11% of all private sector businesses are covered by FMLA] report that the FMLA has had little or no impact on their business operations or productivity. However a small group of highly influential big business employers has consistently complained that current FMLA regulations impose unreasonable restrictions and costs on employers and have contributed to a significant rise in unjustified absenteeism.

However, the government's own data does not support these claims. Leading human resource experts contend that problematic leave-taking and productivity loss in some workplaces is more likely to be a product of inept or outdated management practices rather than worker abuse or these family-friendly labor regulations.

Anti-FMLA employers, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are calling for changes to the Act that would reduce the number of covered health conditions and prevent eligible workers from taking unpaid leave in increments of less than four hours. Partly in response to employer complaints, the U.S. Department of Labor has issued this request for public comments related to the regulation and administration of the FMLA. While general comments are invited, the Dept. of Labor's formal Request for Information (RFI) also seeks new and unpublished data on the effects of FMLA leave-taking on business outcomes -- information that potentially could be used to justify the implementation of more restrictive regulations if FMLA opponents have their way.

We must counter these business complaints with our own stories and our fervor for this important national workplace policy.

Send your comments NOW.

Improvements:

While the FMLA falls far short of the comprehensive work-life policies needed to address the basic needs of the 21st century workforce and protect mothers' and caregivers' economic rights, NOW strongly opposes any regulatory changes that would further limit the scope of the Act. In fact, NOW supports PAID sick and family leave, and supports expanding the FMLA to cover more workers. It is vital to provide a livable level of wage replacement to workers who need longer, continuous periods of time off for infant care or their own or a family member's or loved one’s urgent health needs. There must be guaranteed protection for caring for same- and opposite-sex domestic partners with a serious illness. For the health of our children it must also cover normal, contagious childhood illnesses with potentially serious complications, such as strep throat and chicken pox. Finally, it must allow parents to take up to 20 hours of intermittent FMLA leave a year to attend school-related meetings and activities.

Take action now -- tell the Department of Labor to do the right thing and protect the rights of workers, the obligations of parents and the health of our nation's families by preserving and expanding the FMLA, not undercutting and restricting it.

Public comments must be received no later than Friday, February 16, 2007.
Please submit your response today and pass this on to all your family, friends and colleagues.

Resources:

* Background Information on the Dept. of Labor's Request for Comments on the FMLA from the FMLA Coalition (PDF)
* NOW fact sheet on FMLA provisions
* Judith Stadtman Tucker, work-life expert and member of NOW's Mothers and Caregivers Economic Rights advisory committee: "Hands Off My FMLA"
* National Partnership for Women and Families' Work on FMLA

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