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The longer stay in the HR game, the more jaded I become. I don’t like it but it is reality. Recently, I was cleaning out some drawers in my office and way down in the bottom I found this old relic pictured here. For you youngsters out there this is the way we did it old school (pre-internet/pre CDs). We had books with the regulations in them and then we read them, and highlighted them – no word or Google searches.
So after finding this jem, my first understanding of the new 1993 law, I could not help but open it up and flip through. I found where I had been a good little HR trooper and highlighted what I thought were some of the most important passages.
The fine folks at Commerce Clearing House not only provided us with the law, they also provided some background; what they called legislative intent. Often times this would become important, when the matter ended up in the courts system, as most new laws do.
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We see here that proponents of the bill argue that the term (serious health condition) is not intended to cover short term conditions for which treatment and recovery are very brief such as minor illnesses that last only a few days… Ok I think you get the drift. In item one, they talk about inpatient care, hospice or residential medical care facility. This is all some serious stuff.
Zoom… from 1993 up to 2016. Now we have family friendly workplaces. We want engaged employees. We get time off to vote, to go to our children’s parent teacher conference and anyone can come and go from work pretty much as they please as long as they have their WH-380E for intermittent FMLA leave approved.
Now don’t mistake me, I am not railing on this. It is all law and it is all fact that most employees in most states enjoy these entitlements as an employee. Further, I understand that the employment climate for employees is much more employee friendly in Europe and Canada than it is here. The question is this. How can those of us in the private sector sustain this?
In manufacturing, where I work our mantra is better, faster, cheaper, that is what we are always striving to do. Another spin on this is do more with less. However, with all the time employees can now be away from work we are seemingly doing less with more, at least when it comes to headcounts.
Today, though we live in a global world. Our markets and suppliers are global in nature, no matter the size of your business. So for those of us left in manufacturing in the states our path continues to become more difficult as we compete with companies based outside the United States.
Just as we have laws governing time off, in the states we also have regulations governing workplace safety. Again I am not against safety, I want to send everyone just like they came to work, but we are now competing globally. However the playing field is not equal. What one country does with worker time off and safety, versus another country can totally skew cost.
This is a video I use in safety training. It is purported to be from China. This is what is acceptable worker safety, at least somewhere in the world. I am sure these endangered employees do not get time off to vote or time to go to their parent teacher conferences. Nope… but they are going to kick our ass in the market place.
We need to be mindful of everything we provide for our employees. There is a cost to everything. At some point the cost will drive us out of the market place, and our business will become like my old FMLA regulations stuffed off in a corner somewhere, outdated and worthless.