Human Resources News & Insights

Wait … there are how many people on FMLA leave?

A new analysis of how many U.S. workers are actually taking FMLA leave at any given time — and why they’re taking it — clearly illustrates why administering this type of leave has become such a huge pain in the butt. 

FMLASource is a third-party FMLA administration program offered by ComPsych Corporation, an EAP provider. ComPsych provides services to more than 29,000 organizations covering 78 million people. As a result, it has a wealth of employee data on its hands.

Recently, it put that data to use looking for FMLA-usage trends and benchmarks — and what it found was staggering: At any given time, 10.7% of the U.S. workforce is on FMLA leave.

That’s right, according to FMLASource’s analysis, one in every 10 employees is taking FMLA leave right now. And that’s the average — in some industries the number is far greater.

For example, in health care organizations and call centers, the number of people on FMLA leave at a given time is as much as 30%.

Breaking down the numbers

The analysis also looked into the types of FMLA leave employees are taking, the average duration and the top qualifying reasons.

The findings:

  • 63.6% of employees are on continuous FMLA leave
  • 34.9% are on intermittent leave
  • 1.5% are on a reduced work schedule.

The average duration of leave: 14.2 days.

The top reasons for leave:

  • 64.1% of the time it’s due to employees’ own health conditions (see below for a breakdown of what these conditions are)
  • 17% of the time it’s to provide care for a loved one
  • 9.1% of the time it’s due to pregnancy
  • 6.8% of the time it’s to care for a new child.
  • The remaining 3% was attributed to “other.”

The medical conditions for which employees are taking leave:

  • Surgery — 36%
  • Pregnancy (no complications) — 13%
  • Bonding — 10%
  • Cancer — 7%
  • Knee surgery — 5%
  • Hospitalization — 5%
  • Pregnancy (complications) — 4%
  • Depression/anxiety — 4%
  • Broken bone — 3%
  • Back injury — 3%
  • Migraine — 2%
  • Back surgery — 2%
  • Asthma/COPD — 2%
  • Heart surgery — 2%
  • Accident — 2%

Finally, FMLASource dug into the top reasons employees’ leave requests were denied:

  1. Employee’s supporting documentation wasn’t received in the allotted amount of time.
  2. Employee’s requested dates weren’t certified by a physician.
  3. Documentation for leave wasn’t received at all.
  4. Employee was ineligible for FMLA leave.
  5. Employee had exhausted his or her allotted amount of leave time. ***

*** It’s important to mention that just because someone’s exhausted his or her 12 weeks of leave under the FMLA, the employee may still be eligible for additional leave under the ADA.

This has been a point of emphasis for the DOL over the past year. Here’s our breakdown of why, how and when you must grant leave under the ADA.

For a visual representation of all the data outlined above, check out ComPsych/FMLASource’s latest infographic “FMLA By The Numbers.”

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