February 10, 2014 12:46 ET

20 Years of FMLA: DMEC Survey Finds Employers More Effectively Managing Leave Laws

Same-Sex Marriage, Other Changes Make for Continuing Challenges

SAN DIEGO, CA--(Marketwired - Feb 10, 2014) - While the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other leave laws have increasingly been integrated into corporate processes, ongoing legal and regulatory changes continue to present challenges for employers and new sources of business for their vendor partners, according to the 2013 Employer Leave Management Survey released today by the Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC).

In particular, new rights for same-sex spouses arising from the 2013 Supreme Court decision (United States v. Windsor) on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) are driving changes in corporate leave practices. Employers must now allow employees who live in states that recognize same-sex marriage to take FMLA leave to care for the employee's same-sex spouse with a serious health condition or attend to certain obligations including child care and related activities arising from a spouse being called to active duty. Conversely, in states that do not recognize same-sex marriages, these FMLA leave benefits do not have to be provided. FMLA rights are extended to employees based on whether their state of residence legally recognizes same-sex marriage and not their state of work location.

407 U.S. employers completed the online DMEC 2013 Employer Leave Management Survey asking employers about these and other leave policies and processes. Respondents represented all organizational sizes and a broad range of industries including health care, utilities/energy, retail/wholesale, education, and financial/insurance. Key Survey results include:

  • Almost half of employers rate training supervisors in leave processes as extremely difficult
  • More than half of the employers describe the relationship between HR/benefits and risk management functions as successful or positive
  • More than half of the organizations use internal legal resources to manage leave laws
  • 68% of employers centralize leave management
  • 90% of respondents indicate HR is involved in tracking and managing leave
  • Leave outsourcing has increased by 16% over 2012 with 34% of employers outsourcing FMLA leaves
  • Employers with 500 to 999 employees are most likely to use externally developed leave tracking systems, but run them internally
  • A new trend is that 5% of employers outsource ADA accommodation leaves

"Employers of all sizes and in all industries have a good grasp on the laws and regulations regarding leave and are more effectively integrating mandated leave into their business processes," said Terri L. Rhodes, Executive Director of DMEC. "As the FMLA turned twenty years old in 2013, effective and compliant leave administration has become a necessity for many employers who want to maintain a competitive advantage and it represents a source of revenue growth for their vendor partners. Even greater commitment and coordination will be necessary as same-sex marriage and other laws continue to evolve and impact employer leave policies."

To obtain a copy of the DMEC 2013 Leave Management Survey, please visit:

About DMEC
The Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) is a non-profit organization that provides educational resources to employers in the areas of disability, absence, health, and productivity. The primary goal of DMEC is to assist employers in developing cost-saving programs, encouraging responsive market products, and returning employees to productive employment. Visit for more information about educational publications and events.

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