Family Medical Leave Act
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law in the United States that provides certain employees with job-protected leave for specific family and medical reasons.
Enacted in 1993, the FMLA is designed to help employees balance their work responsibilities with the need for family or medical leave. Here are key aspects of the FMLA:
- Eligibility: To be eligible for FMLA protections, employees must work for a covered employer, which includes private sector employers with 50 or more employees, public agencies, and public or private elementary or secondary schools. In addition, employees must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months.
- Covered Reasons: The FMLA provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for specific reasons. These include:
a. Birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child.
b. To care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition.
c. For the employee’s own serious health condition that makes them unable to perform their job.
d. Qualifying exigencies arising out of the active duty or call to active duty of a spouse, child, or parent in the military.
e. To care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness.
- Employee Rights and Protections: During FMLA leave, eligible employees have the right to retain their health insurance coverage as if they were actively working. Employers are also required to restore employees to the same or an equivalent position when they return from FMLA leave, with few exceptions. Retaliation against employees for taking FMLA leave is prohibited.
- Leave Entitlement: Eligible employees are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave within a 12-month period. The 12-month period can be calculated using various methods determined by the employer, such as a calendar year, a fixed 12-month period, or a rolling 12-month period.
- Certification and Notice Requirements: Employers can require employees to provide appropriate notice and certification of the need for FMLA leave. This may involve medical certification for the employee’s own serious health condition or the serious health condition of a family member.
It’s important to note that some states have their own family and medical leave laws that provide additional or expanded protections beyond the federal FMLA.
Employees should review the specific requirements in their state to understand their rights and any additional benefits they may be entitled to.
If an employee believes their rights under the FMLA have been violated, they may file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor or seek legal advice from an employment attorney.