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The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is a federal law, so it can preempt state law even if the laws conflict. This means that it is that employees in states that offer little or bare family and medical leave may be protected under the FMLA. Some states may have laws that provide more coverage depending on the health or medical circumstance, although many states do not provide more leave than required by federal law.

The FMLA any It provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave and requires that employers covered by FMLA preserve the health benefits for eligible workers just as if they were working.

Do All Employers Provide under the FMLA?

Not all employers must provide the benefits required under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Federal law states that employers are required to provide eligible employees with leave if the employer is either:

  • A state, local, or federal governmental agency;
  • A private business that does interstate commerce with 50 or more employees that works twenty or more weeks in a year; and
  • Engage in commerce or an industry that affects commerce.

The requirement for commerce shouldn’t be a concern, as almost every business falls under the requirement for being commerce or affecting commerce.

What is the Employee Eligibility under the Family and Medical Leave Act?

To be eligible for the FMLA, the employee must fulfill all three of these requirements:

  • Have worked for the employer for the last 12 months;
  • Worked at least 1,250 hours over the last 12 months; and
  • Be employed by an employer covered under the FMLA.

You must also have a qualifying life event that can trigger the FMLA.

  • The birth and care of a newborn child;
  • The placement of an adopted or foster child that was placed within 1 year since applying for leave;
  • To care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition;
  • Employee has serious condition that makes them unable to perform functions of their job, including pregnancy or prenatal care; or
  • If employee’s spouse, daughter, son, or parent is an active military member or called to active duty.

An employee can take up to 26 weeks of leave in 12 months if it is to care for a spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin that is a service member with serious injury or illness. But overall, every employee is limited up to 26 weeks of combined leave over a 12-month period.

What Is the Eligible Employee Entitled to under the FMLA?

FMLA allows employees to take time off to care for family members. The benefits may include:

  • 12 weeks unpaid leave;
  • Medical/health benefits during the leave; and
  • Restoration of their original job when they return to work after the leave

What Are the Employer's Responsibilities under the Family and Medical Leave Act?

An employer is not permitted to fire an employee who takes family or medical leave for a reason outlined in the FMLA. The employee, working for an employer covered by the FMLA, has a right under federal law to take this leave if they qualify.

  • The employer cannot reprimand the employee for taking this leave.
  • An employer, also, may not discriminate when granting such leave.

Can I Lose My Job If I Take FMLA Leave?

No. An employer cannot reprimand the employee for taking a FMLA leave or interfere with the FMLA rights of an employee. Employers also cannot use FMLA leave as an adverse factor in any employment evaluations such as promotions or raises.

Should I Consult a Lawyer about the FMLA?

An employment lawyer can help an employer determine whether the FMLA or other state family leave laws apply to them. The attorney can also help to ensure that the employer's rights are protected if an employee requests family or medical leave from the employer. An employment lawyer can help an employee to show the employer that family or medical leave is required.

Photo of page author Ki Akhbari

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 03-06-2018 02:25 AM PST

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