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2 min read

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and How it Applies

If you are facing a personal or family health situation that requires you to be away from work for an extended period, you may wonder, "What is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and how does it apply to me?"

The FMLA is a federal employment law that protects your job when you need to take time off to deal with your health issue or that of a family member, as well as a few other specified reasons.

FMLA Basics

The FMLA was signed into law in 1993. It grants eligible employees the right to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specific family and medical reasons.

The primary goal of this legislation is to enable employees to take time off from work to handle their personal or family health-related matters without the fear of losing their jobs.

Eligibility for FMLA

To be eligible for this protected leave, you have to meet the following requirements:

  1. Your employer must be covered by the FMLA, which applies to private employers with 50 or more employees and public agencies.
  2. You must have worked for this employer for at least 12 months, accumulating a minimum of 1,250 hours.
  3. You must work at a location where at least 50 employees are employed within a 75-mile radius.

Reasons for FMLA Leave

You can request FMLA leave for a few different family and medical reasons. These include:

  • Birth and care of a newborn child: New parents can take FMLA leave to bond with and care for their newly arrived child.
  • Adoption or foster care placement: Individuals can take leave to bond with and care for a newly adopted or fostered child.
  • Serious health condition: Employees can take leave for serious health conditions that make them unable to perform their job duties.
  • Care for a family member: FMLA can be utilized to care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition.
  • Qualifying exigency: In certain situations, such as a family member's military deployment, employees may take leave to address the resulting issues.

Leave Duration and Job Protection under FMLA

FMLA leave typically allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period. However, there are exceptions. For example, if you need to care for a covered military service family member with a serious injury or illness, your FMLA-protected leave can be extended to 26 weeks.

In addition to protecting your job during the FMLA leave period, employers must also maintain your health benefits with the same level of coverage.

When you return to work from FMLA leave, you are generally entitled to be reinstated to your original position or an equivalent one with equal pay, benefits, and other terms of employment.

Your Rights under FMLA

Knowing your rights under the FMLA is crucial. If you need to take leave for a qualifying reason, you must inform your employer. You will also need to provide them with enough information about the need for leave.

It is advisable to consult your employer's FMLA policy and follow the necessary procedures to ensure a smooth leave process.

It is important to note that FMLA leave is unpaid, but you may be able to use accrued paid or sick time during your FMLA leave, depending on your employer's policies.

If your FMLA rights have been violated, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor or file a private lawsuit. A Labor and Employment attorney can help you determine your best course of action.

We invite you to get a free consultation with the Labor and Employment Law Legal Team here at Whitcomb Selinsky, PC. Call (866) 433-4116 or click here to use our convenient online form to tell us how we can help.