Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Re: Family Medical Leave Act

I received this note from a friend who is a pediatrician:
What prompts me to write to you now is your feature on the Family Leave Act. I think it's a well intentioned and compassionate bill. It's unfortunate that there are those who work the system to their advantage and ruin it for the rest of us. In small businesses such as mine it presents a major logistical problem. It comes up several times a year when an employee, or more, goes on maternity leave. It's compounded when, once their leave is over and it’s time to return to work they want to go "part time." It’s understandable, I am sure, to the majority of your readers. When a new mother is faced with that irresistible bundle of happiness and the concomitant physiologic changes, most mothers will want to spend as much time as possible changing diapers cleaning, spit-up, nursing every three hours throughout the day...
Because of this and because of other business decisions which were driven by the needs for services in our service area by our patients, we now have 18 Pediatricians working a combination of full and part time. This has consequences for our business plan. Our financial structure includes certain benefits which are fixed: hospital and professional society dues, liability insurance, health insurance, etc. All these benefits add up in cost and these benefits go unused and are a financial liability to the corporation when there is no production (i.e. leave time). On the other hand we want to be family friendly so as to foster the culture of marriage and of life and because an employee that has less to worry about in these circumstances is a happier more productive employee, generally speaking.

This doctor's conclusion is that the restrictions of the FMLA make it harder, not easier, to make the accommodations that really matter to employees and that are cost-effective at the same time.

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