NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Career Prospects Dimmer For Unpaid-Leave Takers

January 11, 2000

Those who avail themselves of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 -- which permits employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from their jobs for family or medical reasons -- may find themselves forgotten when promotions are handed out. Such is the conclusion of a study by Michael K. Judiesch and Karen S. Lyness of the City University of New York's Baruch College.

Comparing the progress of 523 full-time managers of a big financial-services company who took leaves in the early 1990s with that of their peers from 1993 through mid-1995 they found that:

  • Leave-takers were 18 percent less likely to be promoted than non-leave-takers.
  • Leave-takers also received 8 percent less in salary hikes.
  • The median length of leave was less than two months -- although some lasted much longer.
  • The length of absences did not affect penalties -- but multiple leave-takers were more heavily penalized.

Leave-takers tended to receive lower job ratings. Although they received fewer promotions, one-third did eventually get promoted.

Source: Gene Koretz, "Hazardous to Your Career," Business Week, January 17, 2000.


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