The groundbreaking Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – which protects employees from discharge or discrimination for taking appropriate leave after the birth of a child or illness of a family member – is under attack. At the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO we are gathering stories to show how Wisconsin families have been helped by this important Act.
The Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act is far better than existing Federal law – but legislation is pending that would weaken our state’s strong protections and deny many Wisconsin workers the ability to take FMLA to care for family members.
If you work part-time, at a location with less than 50 employees in a 75 mile radius, cared for an in-law or domestic partner, or for a child over 18 it is especially important that you share your story because changes in the law would limit your right to take leave.
Better eligibility requirements: Under Wisconsin FMLA you are eligible for leave after 1,000 hours of work which includes paid time off. The Federal law requires 1,250 of work excluding paid time off. This is a huge loss for part-time workers.
The right to substitute accrued time: Under Wisconsin FMLA, the employee chooses whether to substitute accrued paid leave of any type for unpaid leave under the Wisconsin FMLA. With the Federal FMLA, the employer can force the employee to substitute paid vacation, personal leave and compensatory time for any type of federal FMLA leave, and employees do not have the right to substitute accrued sick leave for other FMLA leave.
Stronger Definition of family: Under Wisconsin FMLA domestic partners as well as mother-in-law and father-in-law are considered family members for which an employee can take leave to care for. Federalizing the law would remove coverage for in-laws as well as domestic partners or parents of domestic partners; it will also abolish leave to care for children 18 and over who cannot care for themselves because of a temporary serious health condition.
More protections for workers at small work locations: Under Wisconsin FMLA you are eligible for coverage if your employer employs 50 or more people. Under Federal FMLA the employer has to have 50 employees within a 75 mile radius. This will exclude many employees at smaller chain establishments as well as employees in rural areas.
The right to take intermittent leave: Under Wisconsin FMLA, you can take intermittent leave for all family and medical emergencies in increments equal to the shortest increment permitted by the employer for any other non-emergency leave. Federal FMLA permits intermittent leave ONLY when necessary for serious health conditions, not for birth or adoption of a child.
Now is not the time to strip away better protections for Wisconsin workers. Please share your FMLA story today. Be sure to check back to The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Blog and Facebook page for updates as this legislation develops.
(Photo Credit: Sara Wallenfang and Union Labor News.)