FMLA SURVEY: NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL ‘SPIN’

To recognize the 20th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Department of Labor issued the results of a survey on the FMLA on Monday.  In the news release entitled, “Family and Medical Leave Act benefits workers and their families, employers” announcing the survey results the DOL made some pretty surprising statements. You can see the press release here.  And you can see the survey results here. And what exactly did the DOL have to say about the “landmark” FMLA?  Let me quote from the press release:

The study shows that employers generally find it easy to comply with the law, and misuse of the FMLA by workers is rare. The vast majority of employers, 91 percent, report that complying with the FMLA has either no noticeable effect or a positive effect on business operations such as employee absenteeism, turnover and morale. Finally, 90 percent of workers return to their employer after FMLA leave, showing little risk to businesses that investment in a worker will be lost as a result of leave granted under the act.

Really?

Far be it from me to call into question the results of the DOL’s survey, but who was surveyed?  Maybe companies in Mexico or Canada or China?  Or maybe a bunch of companies with fewer than 50 employees. I’m sure administering the FMLA is no problem for them at all.  But my experience working with larger employers has been a bit different.

I have been practicing law for slightly more than 20 years. I was a first-year lawyer when the FMLA was signed. During those 20 years, I have worked in this law firm and I have been an in-house lawyer for a major corporation. And in those years I’m willing to bet I have answered more questions from clients about the FMLA than about any other law.

The ADA is a close second, but I’m pretty sure the FMLA leads the pack. And when clients call me to ask questions, they get a bill. So they don’t do it lightly. “Easy to comply with the law”?  If that ain’t spin, I don’t know what is.