National Partnership for Women & Families

As Labor Department Leaks FMLA Regulations, Work Family Leader Concerned About New Obstacles that May Face Workers Needing Leave

Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
Washington, D.C. — February 8, 2008 —
“Yesterday the U.S. Department of Labor leaked to several journalists the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) regulations that will be published in the Federal Register on Monday.  If it is true that the new regulations will give employers permission to seek information from their employees’ doctors directly, workers’ privacy rights could be in real danger.  Workers should not have to choose between allowing their employers to violate their privacy or losing leave they urgently need.

We are also concerned by reports that workers may face additional hurdles that make it more difficult for them to certify that they need intermittent leave to deal with chronic medical conditions.  This can be especially burdensome for low-income workers without health insurance who may wait hours for care at clinics, and who may not see the same doctor from one visit to the next. 

The Administration reportedly also is proposing to allow employers to place new constraints on when and how workers can take leave at unexpected times, such as a heart attack or to care for a parent or child with a medical emergency.  The FMLA was designed to give workers real flexibility in such situations, and new regulations must not let employers take away that flexibility when it is needed most.

For 15 years, the FMLA has worked well.  Now, with the economy in trouble and families struggling, workers need its protections more than ever.  Instead of making it more difficult for workers to take the unpaid leave this law provides, the Administration should join us in finding ways to expand the FMLA so more workers can take leave for more reasons, and those who cannot afford to miss a paycheck can take the leave they need to care for a new baby or seriously ill family member or to recover from illness.”

Contact

Cindy Romero (202) 986-2600 cromero@nationalpartnership.org

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.

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