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What the new family leave law requires from employers.

Congress has passed and the president has signed into law the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. The new law requires private employers of 50 or more employees to provide eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for their own serious illness, the birth or adoption of a child, or the care of a seriously ill child, spouse or parent.

The bill was signed by President Clinton on February 5 and takes effect in six months for employers without collective bargaining agreements. For organized employers, the act becomes effective either on the date the contract expires or one year after the date of enactment, whichever is earlier.

Other highlights of the law include:

* Employees must be employed for at least a year and have worked at least 1,250 hours within the previous 12 month period to be eligible for leave.

* Employees are entitled to take 12 weeks of leave for these reasons in any 12-month period. Under certain circumstances, leave may be taken intermittently or on a "reduced leave schedule."

* Employers may require employees to take any paid sick leave or annual leave as part of the 12-week leave provided in the law.

* Employees taking leave are entitled to receive health benefits while they are on unpaid leave under the same terms and conditions as when they were on the job.

* Employers must guarantee employees the right to return to their previous or an equivalent position with no loss of benefits at the end of the leave, although the law provides a limited exception from the restoration provision to certain highly paid employees.

* Intermittent or reduced leave for family reasons (leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted baby) can be taken only if the employer and employee agree to the arrangement. However, employees may take medical leave intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule "when medically necessary"--without obtaining the permission of the employer.

* The Labor Dept. will use regulations and enforce the law under an approach modeled on the enforcement of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Labor Dept. regulations are to be issued within 120 days after the enactment of the law.

* The law allows civil suits by employees and also allows the secretary of labor to sue for damages on behalf of employees whose employers have violated the act.

* The law does not preempt state and local laws providing greater leave rights--a provision that applies to state and local laws in effect at the time of enactment or those enacted in the future. The law does not "modify or affect in any way" any federal or state civil rights law, including Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
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Title Annotation:Management Matters; Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Apr 1, 1993
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