Please note: As of January 20, 2021, information in some news releases may be out of date or not reflect current policies.

News Release

Family and Medical Leave Act benefits workers and their families, employers

US Labor Department releases key findings on acts 20th anniversary

WASHINGTON — To mark the 20th anniversary of the signing of the landmark Family and Medical Leave Act, the U.S. Department of Labor today released the results of a survey on its use and impact. Titled "Family and Medical Leave Act in 2012: Final Report," the survey shows that the law has had a positive effect on the lives of millions of workers and their families without imposing an undue burden on employers.

"The Family and Medical Leave Act codified a simple and fundamental principle: Workers should not have to choose between the job they need and the family members they love and who need their care," said acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris. "The FMLA has helped millions upon millions of working families manage challenging personal circumstances at very little cost to their employers and with very little disruption in the workplace."

Acting Deputy Administrator for the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division Mary Beth Maxwell said, "The significance of the FMLA is in its recognition that workers aren't just contributing to the success of a business, but away from their jobs they are contributing to the health and well-being of their families. Our survey results show that, for two decades, granting job-protected leave has been good for employers and good for millions of workers and their loved ones. The FMLA is working."

The study shows that employers generally find it easy to comply with the law, and misuse of the FMLA by workers is rare. The vast majority of employers, 91 percent, report that complying with the FMLA has either no noticeable effect or a positive effect on business operations such as employee absenteeism, turnover and morale. Finally, 90 percent of workers return to their employer after FMLA leave, showing little risk to businesses that investment in a worker will be lost as a result of leave granted under the act.

The FMLA was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. It allows workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to bond with a newborn, newly adopted or newly placed child; care for a seriously ill child, spouse or parent; or care for their own serious health condition without fear of losing their jobs. Amendments to the act have extended the protections to allow workers with family in the military to take time away from work to attend to situations arising from a parent, spouse, son or daughter's foreign deployment and up to 26 weeks of leave to care for a service member with a serious injury or illness.

The Wage and Hour Division continues to advance the knowledge of the employer and employee communities in the administration and usage of the FMLA. As education continues, the positive impacts of the FMLA will continue to benefit the workplace nationwide. For more information, call 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or visit:

Labor Department's FMLA Home Page

FMLA Employee Guide

Labor Department's 2013 FMLA Survey

Wage and Hour Division
February 4, 2013
Release Number
Media Contact: Jason Surbey
Phone Number