The rights of employees are only continuing to strengthening with the passage of time. Tuesday of this week marked the 20th anniversary of the Family Medical Leave Act. FMLA extends the opportunity for many employees in New York and elsewhere across the nation to be able to take time off from work with job-protection in order to care for an ill family member, recuperate from a serious illness and a few other eligible circumstances.
One mother that was struck with cancer took advantage of her protection under FMLA to take three months off and still be able to return to her position. She says, "I was able to take time off because I qualified for FMLA. I also had access to paid sick days, and a paid sick leave bank, I was able to get some wage replacement while I was out for three months."
However, there are stipulations surrounding who qualifies for this protection. These requirements and thereby eligibility for protection are contingent on the size of the employer, the length of time the employee has been employed with the company and the number of hours an individual works.
So while FMLA does afford a lot of individuals in New York job protection when faced with a prolonged absence, not everyone is covered. Further, this time off is unpaid, so many choose to not take advantage of FMLA or they are forced into financially difficult circumstances. Other critics say that the definition of family needs to be expanded.
While FMLA may not be perfect, it does afford a lot of individuals more security that did not have such a luxury not too long ago. The fight to increase and defend the rights of employees is a noble pursuit that has seen and will likely continue to see many advances.
Source: The Huffington Post, "FMLA Anniversary: Celebrating 20 Years of Strengthening Families," Linda Meric, Feb. 4, 2013
- For more information on protecting employee rights in New York, please refer to our page on employment law.