The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is designed to provide employees temporary job security when faced with certain health-related care responsibilities that preclude them from working. The FMLA compels employers who employ 50 or more employees to grant qualifying employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for:
- Birth and care of the employee’s child, or placement for adoption or foster care of a child with the employee;
- Care of an immediate family member (spouse, child, parent) who has a serious health condition; or
- Care of the employee’s own serious health condition.
For an employee to be eligible for FMLA, they must (1) have worked at least 12 months (which do not have to be consecutive) for the employer and (2) have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately before the date FMLA leave begins.
Congress recently amended the FMLA in an effort to protect the families of our Armed Service men and women. The new provisions of the FMLA, included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), require an employer to provide up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave to the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin to care for a “member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness.
As with most employment laws, the FMLA can quickly become difficult to navigate, especially when an employee insists on testing its limits. Be careful when wading into FMLA waters. When in doubt, get help.
State Family and Medical Leave Laws
Eleven states have enacted their own version of family and/or medical leave laws. Below are links to sites discussing the laws of each state:
- DOL’s FMLA Webpage
- FMLA Regulations
- DOL’s Employment Law Guide: FMLA Chapter
- DOL’s FMLA Advisor (You respond to questions to get answers)
- U.S. Wage and Hour Division