The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a means for employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain reasons. The following is an overview of the federally regulated program; however, please check with your employer for specific details and eligibility.
To be eligible for FMLA leave, an individual must:
- be employed by a covered employer and work at a worksite within 75 miles of which that employer employs at least 50 people;
- have worked at least 12 months (which do not have to be consecutive) for the employer; and
- have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately before the date FMLA leave begins.
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), most employees are entitled to a total of up to 12 work weeks of job-protected unpaid leave during any 12-month period for the following purposes:
- the birth of a son or daughter of the employee and the care of such son or daughter;
- the placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care;
- the care of spouse, son, daughter, or parent of the employee who has a serious health condition; or
- a serious health condition of the employee that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her positions.
If an employee was receiving group health benefits when leave began, an employer must maintain them at the same level and in the same manner during periods of FMLA leave as if the employee had continued to work. Usually, an employee may elect (or the employer may require) the use of any accrued paid leave (vacation, sick, personal, etc.) for periods of unpaid FMLA Ieave.
Employees may take FMLA leave in blocks of time less than the full 12 weeks on an intermittent or reduced leave basis when medically necessary.
When the need for leave is foreseeable, an employee must give the employer at least 30 days notice, or as much notice as is practicable. When the leave is not foreseeable, the employee must provide such notice as soon as possible.
An employer may require medical certification of a serious health condition from the employee’s health care provider. An employer may also require periodic reports during the period of leave of the employee’s status and intent to return to work, as well as “fitness-for-duty” certification upon return to work in appropriate situations.
An employee who returns from FMLA leave is entitled to be restored to the same or an equivalent job (defined as one with equivalent pay, benefits, responsibilities, etc.). The employee is not entitled to accrue benefits during periods of unpaid FMLA leave, but the employer must return him or her to employment with the same benefits at the same levels as existed when leave began.
Employers are prohibited from discriminating against or interfering with employees who take FMLA leave.