Human Resources News & Insights

Does not compute: Feds say FMLA compliance is a piece of cake

Finally, hard evidence that the federal government is indeed run by beings from another planet: The DOL says that the vast majority of U.S. employers think that complying with FMLA regs is a snap.

We’re serious. In celebration of the Family and Medical Leave Act’s 20th anniversary, the feds released a survey, which stated:

  • 91% of employers reported that FMLA compliance has either no effect or a positive effect on business operations such as employee absenteeism, turnover and morale
  • 85% said complying with the FMLA is “very easy,” “somewhat easy,” or has had “no noticeable effect.”
  • Fewer than 2% of covered work sites reported confirmed misuse of the FMLA, and
  • Fewer than 3% of covered work sites reported suspicion of FMLA abuse by employees.

The survey, conducted by the public policy firm Abt Associates, canvassed 1,812 work sites and talked to 2,852 employees.

Call us cynical, but …

Labor and employment law attorneys are already questioning the findings. Even NPR issued a report on Feb. 5, the 20th anniversary of the day President Clinton signed the FMLA, stating that the law hasn’t worked out as planned for employers or employees.

And if you’re a regular visitor to HR Morning or our sister site HR Benefits Alert, you know the FMLA has long been a thorn in the side of HR and benefits pros.

The DOL’s findings are also vastly different from a similar survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), FMLA and Its Impact on Organizations, which was conducted a few years ago.

In it, 63% of HR pros said the FMLA was “difficult” or “somewhat difficult” to comply with, and 39% said that due to DOL regulations and interpretations, they’ve granted leave requests they perceived to be illegitimate.

Other DOL findings

Some of the other nuggets to come out of the DOL’s report:

  • 24% of employers said a relatively small portion of leave taken for FMLA reasons is intermittent leave
  • 13% of all employees reported taking leave for an FMLA reason in the past 12 months
  • Nearly 60% of employees meet all criteria for coverage and eligibility under the FMLA, and
  • Fewer than 2% of employees who take intermittent leave are off for a day or less.



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