Activists Say FMLA Needs Improvement

It has been 20 years since President Clinton signed the FMLA into law. The law has helped countless employees take time off from their jobs to care for a family member or a new baby without fear of being fired. However, the law doesn't protect everyone, including those who work less than 25 hours a week.

In today's economy, many Texas workers have two or more part time jobs instead of one full time job, as regular salaried positions have become rare. The law does not protect these employees, who may work 25 hours at one job, but who would lack protection at their second or third part time jobs. It is also important to note that the leave is unpaid, which makes it difficult for many people to take advantage of for financial reasons.

The law also doesn't protect workers at small companies with less than 50 employees, which often includes nonprofits and startups. There is also a lot of confusion about who and what is covered by the law, and many Texas residents don't realize that they have the option in addition to regular sick leave benefits offered to employees.

Now activists are calling for paid sick leave to make the program more useful to new parents or those with ill spouses. The law does not currently cover taking time off to care for grandparents, and does not recognize same-sex marriages as a familial relationship under the law. This means that many people are excluded from using the leave and being protected from retaliation.

Source: National Public Radio, "FMLA Not Really Working For Many Employees," Jennifer Ludden, Feb. 5, 2013.