As of January 28, 2008, relatives and spouses of active military, Reserve and National Guard are eligible to take up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave under FMLA. This leave can be to care for an injured soldier, or to attend to other family situations, such as caring for children.
The expansion of the FMLA is a result of President George W. Bush signing the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008, HR 4986 into law on January 28, 2008. The law went into effect immediately, allowing families of military personnel to take FMLA leave immediately. The traditional FMLA (Family Medical and Leave Act) provided job-protected, unpaid leave to eligible employees for up to 12 weeks.
In Florida and across the country, employees are allowed by the Family Medical and Leave Act of 1990 to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave every 12 months.
Not all companies and workers are covered by FMLA leave. A business must have 50 or more employees in a 75 mile radius. Workers are usually required to be employed at the same company for 1,250 hours for the previous 12 months.
For eligible employers and employees, FMLA leave can be taken for a number of personal scenarios. If a family member (parent, child or spouse) is seriously ill, the worker can take FMLA to care for that person. FMLA can also be taken to care for a newborn child, a newly adopted child and a newly fostered child.
While on FMLA leave, the employer and the employee must each continue to pay its share of benefits costs.
The employer can incur other costs as well. The company will need a replacement during the worker’s FMLA leave, which can include the expense of hiring and training new personnel. When the employee returns, the company can lose productivity as the worker takes time to get back up to speed.
All workers on FMLA are guaranteed a job when they return from leave. Usually, it’s the same position, but can also be a position with similar pay, benefits and working conditions
If democratic presidential candidate Hilary Clinton is elected, the costs to employers could increase. Ms. Clinton wants to amend FMLA to allow workers to receive pay for FMLA leave.
Pay for FMLA leave isn’t new. California enacted a law at the state level that allows many employees to be paid for FMLA. Other states have enacted laws to amend and extend FMLA. Some extend the length of time off beyond 12 weeks. Others, like Hawaii, extend the definition of family member to grandparents, in-laws and domestic partners.
Amending the law at the federal level, however, would increase costs for eligible employers across the United States. How companies would manage the increased financial burden isn’t known at this time.
The NDAA provision to expand the FMLA has several purposes. One, the Act gives families of military extended leave beyond the traditional FMLA allotment of 12 weeks. Two, the Act adds “next of kin” to the list of eligible family members, which could allow in-laws, cousins and aunts and uncles to take FMLA to care for an injured or ill soldier. Three, the Act provides leave for a spouse, parent, son or daughter to stand in for military personnel called to active duty. While the soldier is away, the relative or spouse can care for whoever was in that soldier’s charge, including watching over healthy children.
The term used in the NDAA for the third provision of the expanded leave is “any qualifying exigency.” As yet, the details for this provision and for the entire NDAA have not been published. That duty falls to the U. S. Department of Labor, which is working to finalize regulations for White House approval. Once approved, the rules for FMLA will be enforced by the Wage and Hour Division of the U S. Department of Labor.
Since, technically, the NDAA isn’t in effect until the Secretary of Labor publishes the regulations, the U. S. Department of Labor requests employers “act in good faith” to grant all eligible families the expanded FMLA leave. FMLA protocols and procedures already in place, such as medical certification and substitution of paid leave, are excellent tools to manage the new leave.
Many people may not realize how accidents such as slips, trips, and falls affect Florida worker safety. This sort of accident is much more than simply an annoyance. Slips, trips, and falls are a common cause of workplace fatalities. In fact, only driving accidents involving employees resulted in more fatalities than slips, trips, and falls. In 2005, the most recent full year for which statistics are available, 732 workers died after falling at the jobsite. Driving accidents resulted in 1,258 employee deaths.
Florida worker safety is overseen by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also known as OSHA. Each year, millions of workplace accidents are investigated by OSHA. Accidents in the workplace are the last thing either an employer or an employee wants. An accident can result in the employee not only experiencing pain, but also he or she may have to miss work and pay expensive medical bills. In addition, sometimes workplace accidents result in lawsuits.
The statistics regarding the number of workplace accidents are surprising. In 2005, the total number of accidents that occurred in the workplace was 4,214,200. These accidents resulted in 1,234,700 days of work missed by injured employees. Tragically, of that number, 5,702 employees died as a result of an accident in the workplace. Moreover, although these numbers may seem high, they do not include the figures for paramedics, firefighters, police, and other types of government workers. The accident figures for employees of non-profit organizations are not included either.
Statistics also show that 503,530 employees were involved in workplace accidents that caused sprains, tears, and strains. The total number of employees who hurt their backs during 2005 was 270,890. Finally, 255,750 employees were injured when they fell at work.
It’s easy to understand why businesses need to have safety programs in place at work. To prevent and reduce accidents, employers should remind employees to exercise care and to follow crucial safety techniques. One way OSHA helps employers is by proving the OSHA Workplace Safety Pack, which includes helpful information.
They flip over, they tip over, and they become more unstable than usual when they’re overloaded. They are ATVs, or All-Terrain Vehicles, and there are more and more workplace deaths and injuries because of them.
A Florida OSHA alert reveals that the ATV is being used with increasing frequency in construction, facilities management, police work, and farming.
With increased workplace use comes more accidents. OSHA statistics show that 113 people died as a result of workplace ATV accidents in 9 years. The rate of death has gone up steadily since 1992. Sometimes workers are hurt badly enough that they lose a day or more of work. Altogether, there were a total of 1,625 accidents.
Besides increased use, the design of the All-Terrain Vehicle contributes to the problem. The machines flip on hills or inclines or during sharp cornering. The combination of motorization, handlebars, and wide tires with low pressure make them difficult to drive. Even those licensed to operate a car or motorcycle for work find them tricky to handle.
Overloading compounds the problem. They are designed for a driver and no passengers. They are not made for carrying heavy loads, and those loads contribute to the ATV’s instability.
OSHA suggests using the manufacturers’ guidelines for the limits on numbers of passengers and weight. It has issued a set of guidelines itself for any vehicle that is motorized, operated off-road, uses low-pressure tires, and has a seat straddled by the driver and handlebars used for steering.
How can operators prevent potentially hazardous situations?
Wear a helmet.
Follow the manufacturer’s weight and passenger limit guides.
Obtain training to operate an ATV.
As ATV use in the workplace grows, so might the rate of accidents and fatalities. Even though those rates do not reach the numbers of deaths and injuries from recreational use, the gap is closing. Figures from the Consumer Product Safety Commission show that ATV deaths in recreational use were 29 in 1982. In 2004, they had reached 470. In the last 10 years, 800,000 ATV injuries were reported.
Let’s go through the worker safety plan checklist: power outages, floods, hurricanes… pandemics. That’s right, pandemics. If you are like most, you probably weren’t planning for the worldwide outbreak of disease. Recent alerts from the OSHA are regarding a possible influenza pandemic.
The Florida OSHA alert is all about the flu. If by some chance a new twist in the flu virus develops, there could be a rampant spread of the illness. A never before experienced type of influenza could take months to develop a vaccine for. Most of us are used to the seasonal flu, but if the virus changes, our bodies would not be immune to it. It is extremely important to have a safety plan in place in case of emergencies like this.
Should a pandemic occur, it is a good idea to avoid certain public areas. Shopping centers, movie theaters and restaurants, are places were the germs can be spread. If it isn’t necessary to go to these places during an outbreak, don’t go. Supermarkets, clinics and health care facilities would naturally be overcrowded do to the increasing needs. Sanitary items like antibacterial soaps and tissues will most likely be in short supply.
The investments would fluctuate do to the drop in consumerism. Tourism, trade, and travel would decline until the outbreak is under control. It could take weeks or months to develop a vaccine for a new strain of the virus. Infants and elderly people would be especially threatened, as their immune systems are not typically as strong as other people.
Please not the hypothetical nature of this message. The OSHA wants everyone to be aware that it is possible, not imminent. As of today, there have not been any new developments of the flu virus, so there is no need to worry or panic. Even though there is no current outbreak, everyone should be prepared, just in case.
ual Harassment is ual harassment according to new Florida law no matter where it happens, in Florida, in the Cayman Islands, or in Chicago. As long as an employee is working for a Florida based company, they can have their civil and ual rights protected by Florida law. So says the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida in a new ruling.
The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida in a new ruling found that the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 can have sway over employers and protect employees of that Florida citizen is working abroad, even in another country.
The particular care in question before the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida came down to the fact that an employee who had once worked in a restaurant company was moved to work for that same company in the Cayman Islands, a small group of islands that are a de facto part of the United Kingdom down in the Caribbean near Jamaica. When she got transferred, she had had a ual harassment case against her store manager in the Caymans. She complained to the company, and they subsequently fired her.
The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida in a new ruling found that there was no language in the Florida Civil Rights Act that said that the law didn’t hold true if the Florida citizen moved out of Florida. And the employee was still technically a citizen of Florida—she still had a driver’s license and everything.
That gave the employee the right to file a suit in the federal courts against her employer. This case could have precedent for all Florida employers who have overseas offices or stores and send employees there frequently.