What is the Family Medical Leave Act?

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The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that was passed in 1993 to provide job-protected leave for employees who need to take time off from work to care for their own serious health condition or that of a family member. The FMLA is designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities without fear of losing their job or being penalized in any way.

Under the FMLA, eligible employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for certain family and medical reasons. During this time, employers are required to maintain the employee’s health insurance coverage and ensure that they have a job to return to once their leave has ended.

The FMLA applies to all public agencies, private sector employers with 50 or more employees, and all public and private elementary and secondary schools. To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of their leave.

Some of the reasons why an employee may take FMLA leave include:

  • The birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth.
  • The placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement.
  • To care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition.
  • For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of their job.
  • For any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a military member on covered active duty or call to covered active duty status.

It is important to note that FMLA leave is unpaid, but employees may be able to use any accrued paid leave, such as sick leave or vacation time, during their FMLA leave. In addition, employers may require employees to provide certification from a healthcare provider to support the need for FMLA leave.

If an employee takes FMLA leave, their employer is required to maintain their health insurance coverage under the same conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Once the employee’s FMLA leave has ended, the employer must reinstate the employee to their previous position or to an equivalent position with the same pay, benefits, and working conditions.

Overall, the FMLA provides important protections for employees who need to take time off from work to care for their own health or that of a family member. If you believe that you have been denied FMLA leave or have been retaliated against for taking FMLA leave, it is important to speak with our experienced employment law attorney who can help you understand your rights and options.

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