US Department of Labor highlights federal family, medical leave protections as nation marks 30th anniversary of passage of landmark legislation
WASHINGTON – Before February 1993, many workers faced with circumstances that demanded time away from work also worried about keeping their jobs and health insurance. That changed with the bipartisan passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act.
To highlight three decades of vital protections for millions of working families, the U.S. Department of Labor is marking the FMLA’s 30th anniversary with events across the nation, including stakeholder events, interagency outreach and collaboration, and the launch of a dedicated webpage with new and updated resources.
“The Family and Medical Leave Act changed the lives of millions of American workers and their families,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “Since its 1993 passage, many workers no longer have to choose between their job and their health and wellbeing, and that of their families. And, while we celebrate this landmark achievement, we know more still needs to be done to make sure workers can freely exercise their rights to job-protected leave and that they are protected if an employer denies those rights.”
The FMLA protects the rights of eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons and remain covered by their group health insurance coverage as if no leave was taken. The law is a cornerstone in the department’s effort to promote work-life balance and has helped many working families in the U.S. balance the demands of their jobs and care for themselves and their families.
Since 1993, the department’s Wage and Hour Division has helped thousands of workers who have been denied leave, unjustly terminated, or have lost health care coverage during leave; in addition to remedies including job and benefits restoration, the division has recovered more than $63 million in back wages for affected workers.
A commemoration of the FMLA’s 30th anniversary will be held today at the department’s Washington headquarters to honor those who fought for the law’s passage and those who champion worker’s rights today.
Planning is also underway for events and other activities across the nation in 2023. These activities include the following:
- Events to engage stakeholders on issues of parental, caregiver and medical leave.
- Regional events with stakeholders on FMLA rights and responsibilities for employees and employers.
New and updated resources, including a dedicated webpage with useful resources, fact sheets, posters, and presentations on the FMLA and its enforcement
In fiscal year 2022, the Wage and Hour Division investigated 780 FMLA complaints and recovered more than $870,000 in back wages for violations ranked most significant.