What is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?
The FMLA is a federal statute that provides employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under certain circumstances. The following questions must be answered in order to determine if you are eligible for FMLA leave:
- Is your employer a “covered” employer under the act?
- If your employer is a private employer with 50 or more employees then your employer is likely a covered employer.
- If your employer is a private employer with less than 50 employees then your employer is not a covered employer.
- If your employer is a government agency, an elementary school or a secondary school, then your employer is a covered entity regardless of the number of employees.
- Have you worked for your employer long enough to be eligible for FMLA leave?
- You must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months. While they do not have to be 12 consecutive months, a long break in service will not qualify.
- You must have worked for your employer for at least 1250 hours in the 12 months prior to your taking leave.
- Do you work at a location where there are at least 50 employees on-site or within 75 miles of your work-site?
- Yes, then you are covered.
- No, you are not covered.
Assuming you qualify for FMLA after answering the above questions, then you are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for:
- A “serious health condition.” You are entitled to leave for your own serious health condition or to care for a spouse, child or parent who has a serious health condition. For example, an employee who needs back surgery and is expected to be in the hospital for a week and then recovering for 6 weeks would have a serious health condition.
- The birth of a child. You are entitled to leave for the birth of a child and to care for a newborn child within one year of the birth.
- The placement of a child with you for adoption or foster case. You are entitled to leave for either of these events within one year of the event.
Please note that the FMLA also contains a provision for military family medical leave. That provision is not discussed here but provides an extended leave time of 26 weeks to qualifying employees.