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FMLA confusion hurts productivity: HR survey


Confusion over implementing the Family Medical Leave Act causes employers to grant "illegitimate" leave and negatively impacts business productivity, say human resources professionals responding to a survey released Friday.

Nearly 40% of the 521 respondents to the Society for Human Resources Management survey reported that confusion over the FMLA's implementation leads to illegitimate time off.

Nearly 65% said the FMLA can negatively impact employee absences, 55% said it can negatively impact employee productivity and 54% said the same about business productivity.

SHRM said in a statement that it launched its survey "in the wake of regulatory and judicial actions that have clouded and confused (the FMLA's) original intent, resulting in inconsistent and inequitable implementation."

The Alexandria, Va.-based organization also noted that its study follows on the heels of Department of Labor findings on the FMLA.

"The FMLA is long overdue for a checkup to ensure it serves the best interests of our employees' health and well being," said Susan R. Meisinger, SHRM's president and chief executive officer, in a statement. "The SHRM study provides insight into what front-line HR professionals are encountering and highlights the need for change."

Among other survey respondent concerns, the SHRM study found that requests for FMLA leave have increased within the past five years compared with 10 years ago. That is especially true for "episodic conditions," described as ongoing illnesses and injuries as well as non-life threatening conditions.