Family & Medical Leave Act of 1993

Domestic Policy Project


  • Started off as the 'Woman's Legal Defense Fund'
  • Wanted to create equal and fair time off for BOTH men and women because of equality in the workplace.
  • Drafted by National Partnership
  • Was introduced to Congress every year from 1984-1993
  • President of FMLA during the time of getting it into law was Judith L. Lichtman

Recognizing the Problem

FMLA came up due to the conflicts employees were faced with when it came to work responsibilities and their families. Women who become pregnant were losing their jobs and men asking to take off work to help their wives or take care of a sick child were also losing their jobs. Employers were firing employees for asking to take off to care for sick children or family.

-Examples of conflicts:

  • Pregnant women, or a family adopting
  • A seriously ill child or family member
  • The employee them self needs to recover from an illness or surgery

Formulating the Policy

FMLA was created to promote equality in the workplace for both men and women, by giving the employee time off for a family or medical emergency. Equal time was given to men and women.

When the first draft of bill was finished, in 1984, Ronald Reagan was in office. The bill got shut down by Congress every year from 1984 to 1993 because if not having labor's support, so the National Partnership started advertising to other groups, such as AARP and the U.S. Catholic Conference. They rose awareness of the problem to get Congresses attention.

-Groups who supported the bill:

  • Women; Business and Professional Women USA
  • Parents and Children; National PTA, Children's Defense Fund
  • workers and organized labor
  • Service Employees International Union
  • National Education Association
  • United Steel Workers
  • Seniors; National Senior Citizens Council
  • Health professionals; American Academy of Pediatricians, the National Association of Social Workers, and the American Nurses Association
  • religious organizations; Catholic Conference, the United Methodist Church and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations

Adopting the Policy

Next FMLA got the support they needed from all different types of organizations, from women's rights and labor activists, they took the bill back to Congress on Jan. 5th 1993. It was presented by William D. Ford. After passing Congress, it traveled to the House and was passed on Feb. 3rd, then passed through Senate Feb. 4th, who also added an amendment to it. The House agreed to the amendment that was added on, and now it was all up to the president at the time to sign it into law. Bill Clinton signed FMLA in to law on Feb. 5th 1993.

Implementing the Policy

The FMLA policy was created for families and women who were not being treated equally as men were. Meaning, women were being discriminated for getting pregnant and then being fired because the employer felt they could no longer work. It was also created for families with young children or elders they took care of. FMLA gave employees the opportunity to take up to 12 weeks, unpaid, off. They can either take the full 12 weeks at one time for maternity leave or split it up throughout the year. The policy requires employers to provide same group health insurance and protection of the employees benefits. The policy does not apply to companies that employ less than 50 employees or to part-time workers.

-Applies to:

  • Public agencies, including State, local and Federal employers
  • Private sector employers, who employ 50+ employees for a minimum of 20 work weeks in a year.
  • School educators

-Employee Eligibility:

  • Must have worked for at least 12 months for that employer
  • Have worked at least 1,250 hours during that 12 months
  • Work at a location where at least 50 employees are employed

-Leave Eligibility:

  • To care for a newborn; the birth of a son or daughter
  • To care for a newly placed child; the adoption of a son or daughter
  • To care for an intermediate family member; a spouse, child, parent- but NOT "parent-in laws"; with a serious illness
  • To recover from a serious illness or surgery yourself

** If your spouse works under the same employer as you, the 12 weeks is combined; meaning between the 2 of you, you will only get 12 weeks total for a maternity leave**

-Employee Notice:

  • Must give your employer a 30day notice to when you would like to take your leave- IF the leave is foreseeable.
  • Notice as soon as possible if the leave is not foreseeable
  • Enough information so the employer has an idea of why your taking leave, and if it qualifies.

Employer Notice:

  • A notice approved by the Secretary of Labor; explaining rights and responsibilities of FMLA
  • Any requirements for employee to make co-payments for maintaining group health insurance and the arrangement for making such payments
  • Rights to job restoration upon return
  • Employee's potential for reimbursement of health insurance premiums paid by the employer during the leave, if employee fails to return to work after taking FMLA
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Who Implement/Enforces the Policy?

FMLA is enforced by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment Standards Administration.

Evaluating the Policy

This policy is a success because it is used in everyday life, it helped make time off in the workplace equal. it gave women a chance to maintain a steady job, even after they had a baby. Employees are able to take time off to care for a seriously ill family member, if need be. It over came the opinion that "women should not work outside the home after children", and created equality in the workplace between men and women, with giving the same amount of time off. Both men and women are able to get 12 weeks of medical or family need, as long as it meets the eligibility requirements.

What Type of Policy is It?

The Family & Medical Leave Act is a regulatory policy.

Work Cited

"Family & Medical Leave Act." Family & Medical Leave Act. Web. 14 Nov. 2014. <>.

"Purpose of FMLA." N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2014. <>.