Family and Medical Leave
• Twelve (12) percent of small employers (34% of those with 20 or more employees) have a policy regarding family and medical leave while 82 percent handle such requests on a case-by-case basis. Those with a policy typically have it written and available to employees upon request. Almost half (49%) of those with a policy offer unlimited leave while the other half (49%) place a time limit on it. The most frequent limit is one to three months (34%), but that policy varies enormously as does whether leave is paid, unpaid or taken as paid vacation or sick leave.
• The most important reasons for establishing a policy are attracting and retaining employees (42%), legal compulsion (20%), and avoiding potential problems and inconsistencies (17%).
• Within the last three years, 34 percent of small employers have had one or more requests for family and medical leave. Two-thirds of that number report one or two requests, though the average number of requests is three per firm (or one per firm per year).
• Ninety-three (93) percent granted the last request for family and medical leave. Another 3 percent gave leave, but scaled back the time requested. Two percent allowed the employee to work at home and another 2 percent denied leave, but rearranged the employee’s hours or duties. Not one respondent simply refused leave.
• Most employees take modest amounts of time off. Forty (40) percent take a week or less, though 26 percent take more than one month. Over two-thirds of owners paid the absent employee directly or indirectly. Contrary to economic logic, no relationship appeared between the amount of time off and the likelihood of being paid (including paid sick leave and vacation).
• The most frequent ways to compensate for an employee’s absence are other employees covering (71%), the owner/owner’s family covering (62%), and postponing the employee’s work (21%). While the increased workload for others is the most common problem caused by an employee on leave (30%), a majority reported that the last employee’s absence created no real problems. Those covered by law were notably more likely to report difficulties.
• One in 10 employers who have a family and medical leave experience in the last three years report that they have had an employee quit after a stint on family leave, immediately prior to his/her scheduled return.
• Sixteen (16) percent have a policy governing short periods of leave for important personal matters such as doctor’s appointments or parent-teacher conferences. Eighty-one
(81) percent handle such requests on a case-by-case basis.
• Ninety-five (95) percent granted the most recent request for short-term leave for important personal matters. One percent declined it and the remainder had not experienced such a request. Small employers classified one-quarter of those requests as emergencies. Half (50%) of non-emergency requests came with less than 72 hours notice, and a non-mutually exclusive half (44%) were taken at relatively inconvenient times for the business.
• A disturbingly large proportion of small employers believe they are covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 and/or its state equivalent when they are probably not.