Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

FMLA Eligibility and Benefits

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The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can be of assistance if you need to take time off from work because of family responsibilities. The first step is to ask your employer what Family and Medical Leave Act benefits are provided to employees. They may provide additional benefits, like paid maternity leave, for example, than are required by law or, if you are ill, you may be eligible for disability insurance.

FMLA Coverage

At the least, all covered employers (typically employers of over 50 workers) must provide eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave during any 12 month period.  The Family and Medical Leave Act was enacted in 1993.  Since then, the FMLA has provided eligible workers with unpaid time off to meet family responsibilities, such as caring for a new baby or an adopted child, or for looking after a sick child, spouse, or parent.  In addition, your employer must give you your job back or give you another job with equivalent pay and benefits.

How it Works:

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, covered employers must grant an eligible employee up to a total of 12 work weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:

  • for the birth and care of the newborn child of the employee
  • for placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care
  • to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition
  • to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.
Military FMLA
The following amendments are part of the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4986) (in effect as of January 16, 2009) and extend coverage:
  • to employees with spouses, children, or parents who are now serving on (or who have been called up for) active duty in the military for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a qualified emergency arising from a family member’s active military duty.
  • if those loved ones become seriously ill or injured while on active duty, coverage may be extended up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave each year.

Who's Eligible:

An FMLA eligible employee is an employee who has been employed for their employer at least 12 months, worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles.

Additional Information:

  • FMLA may be taken on an intermittent basis allowing the employee to work on a less than full-time schedule.
  • If you are covered by health insurance, your employer must maintain that coverage while you are on leave.
  • If your manager isn't aware of the FMLA guidelines, check with the Human Resources department directly.
  • California recently implemented a Paid Family Leave (PFL) insurance program, which when taken in conjunction with FMLA and California Family Rights Act (CFRA) leave, provides up to six weeks paid leave.  The program is administered by the State Disability Insurance Program.  Other locations may have programs, so, check to determine what benefits you are eligible for.


    DISCLAIMER: The information in this directory is from United States and  individual State government resources, from private parties, and from some non-U.S. governmental resources. I presume the governmental information, from government web sites, is correct, although I recommend you seek legal assistance if interpretation of a law is a problem. Most government websites do provide ways for you to ask questions and receive additional, personal assistance.  Seek legal assistance, however, if your questions are inadequately answered, if you are uncertain, or if your situation is unusual. The private web sites, and the information linked to both on and from this site, are opinion and information. While I have made every effort to link accurate and complete information, I cannot guarantee it is correct. Please seek legal assistance, or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct. This information is for guidance only.

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