Jon Stewart has a brilliant piece here showing Megyn Kelly’s take on various family-friendly programs before and after going on her own maternity leave:
Incidentally, one thing she mentions favorably in passing is the Family and Medical Leave Act, which had been vetoed by President George H.W. Bush but passed again and signed into law within weeks of the start of Bill Clinton’s presidency. In the early 1990s, a lot of big businesses insisted that the law was a catastrophe would lead to their utter ruin. Now, more than 18 years later, pretty much everybody likes it, because it actually helps with employee retention and creates a more level competitive playing field between businesses.
I’m going to have to disagree some about the FMLA. Companies can say they’re following FMLA guidelines, without ever actually granting it.
When I was working for the Postal Service, at one point I tried to get FMLA to give more full-time care to my wife after one of her surgeries. You’re familiar with Hilde’s medical issues, so you know this should have been a shoe-in. I found out what documentation the local USPS office handling FMLA wanted and sent it in.
It was disappproved. When I called about that, I was told I’d sent in the wrong documentation, and was given a completely different list of requirements. I sent that in.
It was disapproved. When I called about that, I was again told I had submitted the wrong documentation, and again given a different list of requirements. I sent in that third submission.
Can you guess what happened next? Hint: I didn’t get approved for FMLA.
By this point, the frustration and anger involved were reaching the point where it overwhelmed any benefit I’d have gotten from FMLA approval. I ended up making do with using some of my regular leave time, and asking Hilde’s daytime caregiver to take on some of the extra post-surgery needs for the time I couldn’t get leave for.
But it was clear that the #1 priority for the USPS’s FMLA office was to not grant FMLA approval. If they had to make shit up to keep from granting it, they’d make shit up.
(Yes, this was a contributing factor to my retiring from USPS a few years later.)
Thats a good point, even if it’s one that makes my blood boil. I suspect one reason businesses stopped complaining about the FMLA as soon as it was passed is that some of them came up with ways to ignore the law. But I think my point is still valid that the FMLA itself hasn’t led to the end of the world as opponents had insisted it would. There are businesses that do follow the law, and they haven’t been significantly harmed by it. For that matter, a lot of U.S. companies have been out-competed by European ones based in countries with far more worker- and family-friendly laws than we have.