The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was passed in 1993, and it allows employees of eligible employers to receive time off with no threat of losing their job. The law is only applicable in certain situations, and both the employer and employee must meet eligibility requirements. The FMLA can be complicated, but these answers can help you gain a clearer understanding about your rights and responsibilities.
What employers are covered by FMLA?
Which employees are eligible for the Family and Medical Leave Act?
What length of time is permitted for leave under the FMLA?
What situations qualify the employee for leave?
Certain requirements must be met in order for employers to comply with FMLA. Private employers who have a minimum of 50 employees who were employed for at least 20 weeks must comply with the law. All public agencies, regardless of size, must comply. This includes schools, as well as local, state, and federal employers.
Employees who work for eligible employers must still meet two criteria in order to be eligible for FMLA. They must have worked a minimum of 12 months for the employer (not necessarily consecutively), and they must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months. Also, the location where the employee works must have at least 50 employees or be within 75 miles of a location that does.
An eligible employee can take up to 12 weeks of work off for eligible reasons. Situations related to care for a military service member may be eligible for 26 weeks of leave during a 12 month period.
Eligible employees must be granted leave under FMLA for any of the following circumstances:
- A serious medical condition prevents the employee from fulfilling essential job duties
- The employee must care for a child, parent, or spouse who has a serious health condition
- Birth of a child
- Placement of foster care or adopted child
- A qualifying exigency of a family military member (spouse, daughter, son, or parent) on covered active duty. Military caregivers may be entitled to 26 weeks of leave to take care of a covered service member with a serious illness or injury.
Is the time off paid by the employer?
No, leave granted through the FMLA is not paid time off. However, the employee may choose, or be required, to use paid time-off benefits such as vacation, sick days, or personal time.
Does the employee retain health benefits during the leave?
The employer is required to continue the employee’s health insurance coverage, but the employee may have to pay part of the premium while on leave.
Is intermittent leave permitted?
Certain circumstances allow employees to take leave in smaller individual sections of time. They may also be able to reduce the amount of time worked during each day or week.
How much notice is needed prior to taking leave?
It is desirable for employees to give a minimum of 30 days’ notice before taking leave. If this is impossible, notice should be given as soon as possible.
Will employees be restored to the same job they had before they took leave?
Employers are required to restore employees to either their original job or to an equivalent position with the same benefits, pay, and other conditions. However, if the position has been eliminated while the employee was on leave, the employee may not be entitled to the previous position.
Can an employer refuse to grant a leave request?
If the employer is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the employee is eligible, the employer cannot deny a request as long as the employee hasn’t already used up the 12 weeks for the applicable 12-month period.
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