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Autor: anton 16 July 2011
Words: 1248 | Pages: 5
Family Medical Leave Act
As an employer you want to hire and maintain a professional and knowledgeable work staff. In order to do this, the job needs to offer qualifying individuals with incentives. These incentives not only include competitive salaries but flattering benefits as well. People hear of the usual sick days offered or the week or two weeks of vacation time yet many are unfamiliar with the benefits that fall under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA requires an employer to be covered under the act and that an employee be eligible for such benefits prior to receiving the benefits.
President Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act into law on February 5, 1993. Bennett-Alexander and Hartman (2007) state that the act applies to employers who employ 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius. You have a job with a company that employees more than 50 people from the surrounding area but how do you know if you are eligible for benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act?
Eligible employees are those who must 1) work for an employer that is covered by FMLA regulations; 2) been employed with this employer for a minimum total of 12 months; 3) within the 12 months of employment, worked a minimum of 1,250 hours; 4) work within the United States or in any territory or possession of the United States in which their employer employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles (DOL, 1995).
Often after couples marry, they consider the possibilities of having children. What if one or both of the spouses has a job that is necessary to provide for the members of this family; what will happen to their position at their place of employment if they decide to have a baby? With the population continuously increasing, the need for family benefits is on the rise. This is where the Family and Medical Leave Act can come into play for an individual or a couple. If eligible, the first thing an employer has to do is post the rules and regulations of the company that cover the Family and Medical Leave Act in the work environment.
Then if the eligible employee wants to request leave under the FMLA, the employer is required to allow the individual to take such leave if the reasons include:
Ð²Ð‚Ñž Situations in which the employee is unable to work
because of illness or other health difficulties.
Ð²Ð‚Ñž Placement with the employee or a child for
adoption or foster care.
Ð²Ð‚Ñž Birth and care of the newborn child of the employee.
Ð²Ð‚Ñž Caring for an immediate family member with serious
health difficulties (immediate family members are
defined as spouse, child, or parent).
(Answers Corporation, 2007, Leave Entitlement Section, Ð’Â¶ 1)
The act states that a parent, either mother or father, can take up to twelve weeks of leave to care for the birth of their newborn child. In addition, a father is authorized to take care of the mother prior to or after the birth of the child if a physician sees that such a necessity exists. If both parents work for the same employer, the employer has the right to grant both the mother and father of the child a total of twelve weeks of leave time. A consideration of many employees who decide to have a child is will they be able to keep their job if they take leave for the birth and care of their newborn child.
If an employee has taken FMLA leave and returns within the twelve-week period, that employee has the right to their job position they possessed prior to the absence, or a position/title comparable, complete with comparable wages, benefits, and any other terms that the employer provides (Answers Corporation, 2007).
Prior to the passing of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978, the Supreme Court did not consider discrimination on the notion of one being pregnant as a form of gender discrimination under Title VII (Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2007). Many times employers do have policies pertaining to leave procedures when an employee becomes pregnant yet often times they disregard such policies.
Examples of such disregard include termination of an employee once found to be pregnant, refusal to provide entitled benefits to the pregnant employee, denying a pregnant employee to maintain working on the job site when the employee is fully capable of doing so, and not make available the option of limited duty status or such accommodations for a pregnant employee (Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2007).
Not only do employers discriminate against women in the workplace for being pregnant but also against their spouses as well. It has been a stereotype of males for many decades that they are to be the supporter and provider for their family, taking all means and measures necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of man and that of a husband too. Having this instilled in the minds of men at such early ages and reiterated throughout adulthood makes a man hesitant when the thought of taking an absence from work to attend to the birth of a newborn child.
One man by the name of Kevin Knussman won a four-year legal battle that he had with his supervisors pertaining to his rights to parental leave. In the case of Knussman v. Maryland, D.Md. No. B-95-1255, Knussman sued the Maryland state police when they deprived him of the twelve weeks of leave according to the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, after the birth of his daughter (Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2007).
Many men are recipients of crass jokes or harsh comments when they stand up for their rights especially when it comes to such a compassionate and sensitive topic as fatherhood. It has become a common thought of society that when a couple has a child, that the mother is going to be the primary caretaker.
Well, Kevin Knussman is no stranger to such actions and beliefs. He faced judgment from his fellow co-workers and supervisors. Knussman, a prior helicopter paramedic for the Maryland police department sought to stand up for his rights and belief in family values. The birth of his daughter in 1994 caused his wife to face complications during the delivery of the child. Knussman requested four to eight weeks off to care for his newborn but was mandatory to return to duty after two weeks He had been so diligent in saving his leave time that he had over 1,200 hours of sick leave and 250 hours of personal leave to use in his request for the absence (Brobeck, Phleger, & Harrison, 1999).
After it was all said and done, the jury awarded him $375,000 for mental anguish, which was later reduced to a mere $40,000. Knussman stated that he was glad he stood up and took a stand for his beliefs because it was not about money. For the birth of his second child, the state allowed him to take the full 12 weeks off. Ð²Ð‚ÑšBiting the hand that feeds you is never easy,Ð²Ð‚Ñœ Knussman said in a telephone interview (Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2007).
There are many interpretations of the law by both employers and employees. If youÐ²Ð‚â„¢re an employer, review your policy handbook and post notices of such policies in areas that your employees are aware of. For employees, itÐ²Ð‚â„¢s your responsibility that if you wish to embark on such benefits as leave, then you must be aware of the procedures required in doing so. Education and awareness is the key to knowing your rights and being able to act upon them.