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Family Medical Leave Act may get booster shot

Federal legislators are currently considering a proposed update to the national law that requires family and medical leave for certain employees. Currently, the Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, protects covered workers if they have to take extended time off to deal with medical issues for themselves or immediate family members. FMLA does not guarantee workers will be paid during leave; it only guarantees they will come back to an equal job.

Many people in Florida and across the country don't take all of the leave allowed them under FMLA because they don't receive pay while they are off. In some cases, workers max out vacation or sick time during leave and then have to return to work because a paycheck is required.

The new law, which has been proposed by federal legislators, would be known as the FAMILY Act. The Family and Medical Insurance Leave act would offer covered workers up to 12 weeks of leave. The leave would be partially paid using payroll tax contributions, which means workers might be able to afford to take leave necessary to recover from or address medical issues.

According to reports, the funding for the act would come from taxes withheld from payrolls. Both the employer and employee would pay 0.2 percent of wages for this program. Reports notes that companies could also choose to provide additional coverage at their own expense.

Some similar programs have already been launched in some states, and proponents of the FAMILY Act point to successes in those states to support their proposals. In the meantime, many individuals are left with making decisions under the current FMLA law -- decisions that are sometimes made more difficult by issues such as FMLA discrimination or misapplication by employers. Understanding your rights as a worker under federal and state laws can help ensure you receive the appropriate compensation and benefits for your position.

Source: The Washington Post, "Business school professors give national paid leave policy a top grade," Jena McGregor, Sep. 15, 2015

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