A Brief Introduction to the Family and Medical Leave Act

The  Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was first signed into law in 1993 in order to help workers find balance in their work and home lives. The purpose of the law was to protect workers from losing their jobs if they had personal matters or family concerns that caused them to take time off from work. It strives to prevent workers from being forced to choose between their job and their loved ones. The FMLA allows for 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12 month period for reasons including:

  • an employee’s serious health condition
  • the adoption or birth of a child
  • needing to care for an ill spouse, child, or parent

FMLA Eligibility

An employee seeking FMLA leave must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and must have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours for the same employer. The employer must have at least 50 employees located on premises or within a 75 mile radius. State and local government agencies and local education agencies do not need to meet the 50 employee standard. Employees do not need to take their 12 weeks of leave all at once and may use it intermittently or work a reduced schedule to accommodate their needs.

Qualifying Health Conditions

Health conditions considered serious enough to qualify for FMLA leave are injuries, illnesses, or mental conditions that necessitate an overnight stay in a hospital or residential care facility or that require ongoing care from a healthcare provider.

Notification of FMLA Leave

Employees are typically expected to give 30 days notice of a request for FLMA leave for foreseeable circumstances like the birth of a child. When this is not possible employees should provide as much notice as they can prior to their leave. Similarly, employers are required to not only respond to requests for leave but also must inform their employees of their rights to FMLA leave. Failure to do so may lead to the employer being forced to compensate the employee.

Record Keeping

The employer may request certification of the health condition that necessitates FMLA leave as well as fitness certifications prior to returning to work. If the employee is determined eligible, the employer must provide him or her with a notice of their rights and responsibilities while on leave.

FMLA Rights

Employees are to be able to return to the same job or an equivalent one when they return from leave. During leave employers are required to provide the same health benefits they gave to the employee while working and must keep accurate records during the leave as well as post notice of employee’s rights with regards to the FMLA. Failure to acknowledge an employee’s FMLA rights may lead to the employer being sued by the employee or the Department of Labor.

The Family and Medical Leave Act was put into place to protect the rights of workers and to assure them that they can maintain job security while attending to the needs of their family. For more information or answers to any questions you may have regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act contact the Amsberry Law Firm.

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Written by Amsberry Law Firm

Amsberry Law Firm

Mr. Amsberry is board-certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is a proven litigator who has argued before the United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and earned favorable outcomes in complex, precedent-setting employment and civil rights cases. He served as a reservist assistant judge advocate general in the U.S. Army and is a sought-after lecturer and speaker on a range of legal issues.

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