Most employees eligible to leverage FMLA benefit

Nearly two-thirds of all employees have heard of the Family Medical Leave Act. And 59 percent of employees report they are covered and eligible to take leave under the FMLA, according to a new report.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Washington, D.C., discloses this finding in May 2013 briefing paper, “Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Leave in the United States.” The report details use of the 1993 act, which entitles eligible employees, both men and women, up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave around the time of the birth or adoption of a child, so long as they work in firms with at least 50 employees and meet minimum job tenure and working hour requirements.

Regardless of eligibility, 13 percent of employees surveyed by IWPR report they took leave for an FMLA-qualifying reason, such as one’s own serious illness or that of a spouse, parent or child, to care for or bond with a new child, or military deployment of or service related injury to a parent or child in the past year.

Among those who took leave for any of these reasons 56 percent were women and 44 percent were men. The report observes also that 57 percent of all leave taken was for the employee’s own illness, followed by leave for pregnancy or to care for or bond with a new child (22 percent) and illness of a qualifying relative (spouse, child, or parent; 19 percent).

Among the survey’s additional findings:

  • About one-third of employees (35 percent) work in worksites that offer paid maternity leave to all or most women employees; one-fifth (20 percent) of employees work in worksites that offer paid paternity leave.
  • Among those who took leave for parental reasons (such as caring for or bonding with a newborn, newly adopted child, or new foster child; or for maternity-related disability/illness) less than a quarter of women, or 23 percent, took leave of ten days or less, compared with 70 percent of men; 38 percent of women, compared with 6 percent of men took such leave for 60 days or longer.
  • One-third of all people who took FMLA leave received no pay.
  • Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of employees who needed, but did not take, leave in the past 12 months were women. 

 

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