Friday, June 22, 2012

FMLA Webinar May Clear Up Employees’ Confusion Regarding Rights

Have you ever heard of the Federal and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)? No? Well don’t worry, you are not alone. Millions of Americans don’t know that this piece of legislation exists. What’s even more problematic is that millions of American employees don’t know that this piece of legislation grants them certain rights.

According to the United States Department of Labor’s website: “The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.” Under the FMLA, eligible employees are entitled to twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for various health-related situations in which the employee must either care for him/herself or a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition.

Sadly, millions of Americans are unaware of their rights and have not taken necessary leaves of absence as a result. Even worse, for LGBT Americans, the same rights do not always apply. The FMLA does not cover same-sex partners or spouses, meaning some employees have been denied the right to take time off from work to be with their spouse during a time of need.  This is why the Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act (H.R. 2364; S. 1283) was introduced last year. This new bill would expand the FMLA to permit an employee to take leave to care for a same-sex spouse or domestic partner who has a serious health condition. Unfortunately, the bill is still in an early stage of the legislative process and does not seem to be progressing due to continued confusion over the FMLA.

Luckily, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has realized that the FMLA—even for those who do know it exists—has its ambiguities and downfalls. Consequently, WHD will host a webinar on June 27, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. EST that will discuss the basic provisions of the FMLA using the new FMLA Employee Guide. This webinar, which is open to the public, is aimed to answer the public’s general questions regarding the FMLA and its enforcement.

Take Action: Registration is required to participate in the webinar. Please click here to register today and tell your friends and family members to register as well. To order a printed copy of “Need Time? The Employee’s Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act,” please click here and search for “FMLA Employee Guide” in the list of publications provided. In the meantime, contact your members of congress and tell them that you support the Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act because LGBT employees deserve the same benefits as their straight counterparts. Together, we can ensure that every employee is aware of their rights.