FMLA the Family and Medical Leave Act Research Proposal

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FMLA

The Family and Medical Leave Act

The world we know today is the result of endless processes of change which have impacted all features of life. The business community is no exception to this. The most remarkable modifications include the switching focus from production to customer satisfaction or the transformation of the organizational employees from the force operating the machines into the company's most valuable asset. Globalization and market liberalization have generated numerous positive effects, including the maximization of the country's comparative advantages or the growing consumers' access to wide product and service offerings. They have however also spawned more dramatic actions, aimed to support economic agents cope with the emergent requirements of the highly competitive new era.

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The mentioning of the employees' transformation and the fierce competition have not been incidental and they reveal a strong connection with the topic of this paper -- employees are the ones able to support organizations in reaching their overall objectives; employees make the companies competitive and increase their changes of success within the market. Given this status quo then, it was only natural for the contemporaneous managers (in both public and private institutions) to develop and implement strategies that increase the satisfaction of the personnel; this in turn will lead them to increase their performances. A satisfied employee is also a loyal employee, translating as such in reduced employee turnover rates and reduced expenditures. In order to fully benefit from skilled and qualified staff members, organizations develop wide sets of benefits. Otherwise put then, employers not only compete in the market for consumers, but also in the labor market and strive to attract and retain the best qualified workers and their best weapon in this battle is represented by employee benefits.

2. Employee Benefits

Research Proposal on FMLA the Family and Medical Leave Act Assignment

The list of employee benefits is rather extensive and the interest of both scholars and practitioners has exponentially grown throughout the past years mostly due to the advantages employee benefits generate upon both employee and employer. In a most generalist formulation, employee benefits increase employee on-the-job satisfaction -- a satisfied employee is a hard working employee who will increase his efforts in sustaining the organization reach its overall goals -- this will ensure high profitability rates for the employer and his investment in employee benefits will return in the form of increased income.

Employee benefits include everything from the offering of a pleasant and dynamic working environment and a flexible working schedule to premiums, bonuses or salary raises. "The narrowest definition of the term includes only employer-provided benefits for death, accident, sickness, retirement, or unemployment […] on the other hand, the broadest definition of employee benefits includes all benefits and services, other than wage for time worked, that are provided to employees in whole or in party by their employers" (Beam and McFadden, 2001).

It is somewhat difficult to commence a discussion on employee benefits simply because their number is quite vast and also due to the fact that, more recently, managers recognize the importance of incentives correlated to individuality, and offer then the benefits tailored to the personal needs of each individual or group of employees. Despite this however, the most common types of employee benefits include medical coverage, flexible work schedule and telecommuting, the offering of training programs, or the creation of a pleasant working environment.

Medical coverage -- generally ensures the employees that some of their medical costs will be covered through the medical insurance. The fully covered expenses refer to those ordered or prescribed by a physician and most often refer to hospitalization costs (room, board, medicines, anesthetics and so on), outpatient surgical centers or the services provided by nurses (Beam and McFadden, 2001)

Flexible work schedule -- implies that workers will still be on the job 40 hours per week, but they could for instance work four ten hour days or five eight hours days, but outside the conventional 9 to 5 schedule (McKay, 2009). The endeavor significantly improves working conditions and increases satisfaction of both employees and employers; employees are able to construct their working schedule in a manner that allows them to also attend to personal matters and when they go to work, they are relaxed and focused, generating as such the organizational benefit of high performance levels.

Telecommute? -- this is directly linked to flexible working schedule, but in a more geographical sense; it sees that employees can perform their work-related tasks from remote locations outside the traditional office (Hansen). Benefits to the employee include the better alignment of personal and professional life or the avoidance of commuting. To the employer, it generates better satisfied employees and reduced operational costs, as he no longer has to pay maintenance fees for the office.

Training programs -- training programs were initially perceived as a means of improving the employees' skills with the ultimate aim of having them perform at higher levels and make more significant contributions to the organizational profits. In time, these endeavors developed to a stage where the training program ensures the employee that he or she is valued by the organization, which invests in their professional formation. Gaining increased professional abilities gives the workforce stability of a future job and states that even if he leaves the current employer, he is sufficiently skilled to get a new position. The benefit for the employee is increased satisfaction and the benefit for the employer is increased performance.

Other benefits and incentives -- This category could include, amongst others, the following: creating a pleasant, yet challenging, working environment in which the employees are able to interact and both socially as well as professionally, but also to develop; the organization of social events outside the workplace with the aim of familiarizing the staff members; raises and promotions based on performance; extended medical coverage for the spouse and children of the employee and so on.

3. Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act is part of the legislation issues by the United States federal power and it was implemented starting with the 5th of August 1993. Basically, it allows certain employees to benefit from 12 weeks of unpaid leave under specific conditions. Throughout this leave, the workers would still enjoy the benefits of the regular employee and their jobs would be preserved. It is however important to notice that throughout this leave, to be able to enjoy the benefits of a regular employee, the worker has to pay his portion to the federal taxes, life insurance and other contributions.

Initially, there were four conditions that allowed employees to leave work under FMLA, but in 2008, another reason was added to the list. The current provisions of the law state that an employee can leave work for 12 unpaid weeks under the following circumstances:

the birth of their child the need to care for a sick immediate relative (children, parents or spouse)

the adoption or the taking into foster care of a child serious health condition of the employee which prevents him from performing his work-related tasks serving in the military, added in 2008 (United States Department of Labor)

The FMLA has the noble purpose of allowing organizational staff members to balance their personal lives and responsibilities with the professional ones, while in the same time protecting their positions. Since its implementation, millions of employees have taken time off from work to care for themselves or the dear ones without fear of losing their jobs. Despite the fact that FMLA leave is unpaid, the employees or the employers can opt for an accrued pay system, using as such their vacation or sick day leaves. When he returns for work, the employee is reinstated in the same, or in a similar position, with similar salary and benefits with those he had prior to his leave.

Despite the fact that the rules of the FMLA are generally respected, it might at times be difficult for an employee to be able to leave under the act, as it is rather restrictive. In this order of ideas, to be considered eligible for leaver under the FMLA, the employee must simultaneously meet the following three criteria:

he must work for his company in a worksite with 50 or more employees on a 75-mile radius -- this is determined on the date the employees requests the leave under the FMLA not on the actual day of his leave he must have worked within the respective company for at least twelve months during those twelve months, the employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours; hours that count to the 1,250 limit include: actually worked hours (whether paid or unpaid), work-related trips during the workday, work-related activities, such as education or training, and finally, the time spent on military leave; times that do not count to the 1,250-hour limit include the time it takes to get from home to work and vice versa, time on leave other than for military purposes and third, time spent on suspension (Guerin and England, 2007)

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