This week, the Department of Labor issued proposed regulations allowing states to use their Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Funds to pay workers for family leave. The Unemployment & Workers' Compensation organization (UWC) has launched a national campaign in an effort to stop the proposal.
Campaign leaders include UWC President Eric Oxfeld and Donna Gelak, executive director of the National FLMA Technical Corrections Coalition launched by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
Oxfeld said the release of the regulation jeopardizes the nation's safety net for workers who lose their jobs. "A worker who has taken leave and is, by law, entitled to a job upon returning from leave, is not 'unemployed' as required by federal employment laws," said Oxfeld. "From the inception of the UI system, the federal government has recognized the need to protect UI reserves from the powerful temptation for states to spend down their UI reserves by using the money for new programs. That's why federal law has always required that UI benefits be limited to workers who are able and available for work."
Stopping the expansion is one of the top legislative priorities of SHRM, which spearheads the FMLA Technical Corrections Coalition. "We are not going to let them get away with this," said Gelak. "When Congress debated the FMLA, it made a conscious decision not to require paid leave. If the Administration believes that the fundamental nature of the UI system should be changed to include an entirely different program, it should ask Congress and the American people. It shouldn't try to sneak through the regulatory back door by unilaterally modifying the scope of federal unemployment law when Congress is out of town."