Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is there to help when you or a loved one experiences a serous health condition that requires you to take time off from work. Whether you are unable to work because of your own serious health condition, or because you need to care for your parent, spouse, or a child with a serious health condition. The stress from worrying about keeping your job may add to an already difficult situation. The Family and Medical Leave Act provides unpaid, job-protection. FMLA leave may be taken all at once, or may be taken intermittently as the medical condition requires.


Who Can Use the FMLA Leave?

In order to take FMLA leave, you must work for a covered employer. Generally, this includes private employers with at least 50 employees. Private employers with fewer than 50 employees are not covered by the FMLA. But they may be covered by state family and medical leave laws. If you work bfora covered employer you need to meet some additional criteria to be eligible to take FMLA leave.

First, you must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months. Second, you must have worked for the employer for at least 1250 hours in the 12 months before you take leave. This works out to an average of about 25 hours per week over the course of a year. Finally, you must work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles of your worksite. Even if your employer has more than 50 employees, if they are spread out and there are not 50 employees within 75 miles of where you work, you will not be eligible to take FMLA leave.

When Can I Use FMLA Leave?

If you work for an employer that is covered by FMLA, and you are an eligible employee. You can take up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave in any 12-month period for a variety of reasons. The most common serious health conditions that qualify for FMLA leave are:

  1. conditions requiring an overnight stay in a hospital or other medical care facility;
  2. conditions that incapacitate you or your family member (for example, unable to work or attend school) for more than three consecutive days and require ongoing medical treatment (either multiple appointments with a health care provider, or a single appointment and follow-up care such as prescription medication);
  3. chronic conditions that cause occasional periods where you or your family members are incapacitated and require treatment by a health care provider at least twice a year; and
  4. pregnancy (including prenatal medical appointments, incapacity due to morning sickness, and medically required bed rest).

The FMLA also provides certain military family leave entitlements. You may take FMLA leave for specified reasons related to certain military deployments. Additionally, you may take up to 26 weeks of FMLA leave in a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness. There is also coverage under the FMLA for expanding your family. You may take FMLA leave for the birth of a child and to bond with the newborn child, or for the placement of a child for adoption or foster care and to bond with that child. Men and women have the same right to take FMLA leave to bond with their child. But, it must be taken with one year of the child’s birth or placement and must be taken in a continuous block. Unless, the employer agrees to allow intermittent leave.

Why Should I use FMLA?

When you take FMLA leave, your employer must continue your health insurance as if you were not on leave. You may be required to continue to make any normal employee premium contributions.

Click here to learn more about health insurance. This may also be a good time to review your health benefits. You will need to understand how everything will be covered in your unique circumstances.

As long as you are able to return to work before your exhaust your FMLA leave, you must be returned to the same job or one nearly identical to it. This job protection is intended to reduce the stress that you may otherwise feel if forced to choose between work and family during a serious medical situation. Time off under the FMLA may not be held against you in employment actions such as hiring, promotions or discipline.

FMLA leave is unpaid leave. However, if you have sick time, vacation time, personal time, etc. available, you may use that leave time, along with your FMLA leave so you continue to get paid.

How Do I Request FMLA Leave?

To take FMLA, you must provide your employer with appropriate notice and information. Typically you need to notify them at least 30 days in advance if possible. In the case of an emergency, notify then as soon as you are able to. While you are not required to tell your employer the diagnosis, you will need to provide them with enough information so it can be determined that it is a covered situation for FMLA.

When you or a loved one experiences a serious health condition that requires you to take time off work, the stress from worrying about keeping your job may add to an already difficult situation. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is there to help. Make sure to do your research and talk to your employer as soon as possible. 

Please share this article with others so they are aware of the benefits of FMLA leave.