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NEW ABT STUDY PROVIDES INSIGHT INTO EMPLOYEE AND WORKSITE PERSPECTIVES ON THE FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT

Abt Associates conducted the fourth wave of national surveys on U.S. employee and worksite perspectives on the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and found that 56 percent of U.S. employees are eligible for FMLA. In the previous 12 months, 15 percent took leave for a reason covered under FMLA. However, patterns of coverage for leave and consequences for taking leave vary sharply by the wage level of the worker.  The 2018 study was funded by the Chief Evaluation Office, Department of Labor.

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“This is the only national survey that measures FMLA usage and administration for employees and employers,” said Radha Roy, the project’s director.

The study explored several topics, including:

  • Access to paid leave:   
  • Almost three-quarters of employees (73 percent) report having access to paid leave for their own illness or medical care.
  • Employees earning less than $15 per hour report they are much less likely to have access to paid leave for their own illness or medical care compared with other employees (52 percent vs. 80 percent).
  • Among employees who reported taking leave in the previous 12 months, 42 percent received full pay, 24 percent received partial pay, and 34 percent received no pay while on leave.
  • Effects of taking leave:   
  • Employees making less than $15 per hour more commonly report losing their job as a result of taking leave (18 percent) compared with other employees (5 percent).
  • When employees did not receive full pay during leave, employees making less than $15 per hour more commonly borrowed money or went on public assistance to cover lost wages compared with other employees.
  • Unmet need for leave:
  • In the previous 12 months, 7 percent of employees needed but did not take leave (“unmet need”) for a qualifying FMLA reason. Employees earning less than $15 per hour more commonly had unmet need for leave than other employees.
  • Employer perspectives:
  • More than 95 percent of private sector worksites covered by FMLA reported positive or neutral perceptions of the overall effect of FMLA on productivity, profitability, and employees.
  • More than 90 percent of private sector worksites covered by FMLA reported no difficulty in complying with FMLA requirements overall.

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