Though President Bush already expanded the Family Medical Leave Act earlier this year, the burdensome regulation has been rearing its head in Washington and in several states recently. Signed into law in 1993, the Family Medical Leave Act mandates companies with 50 or more employees provide their workers with 12 weeks of unpaid leave for situations like individual and family illnesses, adoption and maternity leave. In January, President Bush expanded the act for the first time in 15 years to provide for two new types of military FMLA leave. Businesses covered under the FMLA must now offer up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave to employees who provide care to wounded U.S. military personnel, and up to 12 weeks of leave to immediate family members of military personnel who have a qualified emergency.
Over the years various lawmakers have introduced legislation that would further expand FMLA, and NFIB has successfully fought to curb these attempts by the government to tell small business owners how to run their businesses. Most recently, the House passed H.R. 5781, the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2008, which creates a new paid leave component of FMLA and sets the stage for future discussions over expanding FMLA for small businesses. NFIB sent a letter to the House June 18 opposing the bill, but the House passed the legislation June 19 278-146. NFIB is ready to work with Congress on the outcome of the bill to ensure no additional economic burdens are placed on small business.
NFIB strongly opposes mandates like paid sick leave because they force small business owners to implement policies that may not be in the best interest of the business–or its employees. We know that most small business owners are already accommodating to their employees when emergency situations arise–according to NFIB polls conducted in 2003 and 2004, 96 percent of small business owners offer flexible working hours for their employees when necessary, and 75 percent of employers provide some form of paid sick leave. Expanding the FMLA again will drastically increase the amount of paperwork and money a small business owner must spend to comply, potentially affecting other benefits offered or their ability to grow their business and add new jobs.
At the beginning of the year, Oregon small business owners found themselves fighting a proposed law that would create a new payroll deduction to fund a mandated paid family leave program. According to an NFIB survey, 87 percent of NFIB members in the state were against the law that sought to assess a penny per employee, per hour payroll tax to fund a paid family leave program.
What you can do: As FMLA legislation heats up in the states and in Washington, D.C., we want to hear how it would affect your business so we can take the message to lawmakers. Visit NFIB.com/page/FMLA to learn more about the issue and share your story with us.