Balancing work and your personal life can be difficult. That balance can be even more difficult when you or your family are facing medical issues or there is a big change in your life. Luckily, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) let’s certain employees take extended absences from work without fear of losing their jobs.
What is the FMLA?
Signed into law in 1993, the FMLA is a U.S. labor law that requires covered employers to allow employees to take periods of unpaid leave for certain medical and family reasons.
During the leave, the employ remains covered by the employer’s group health insurance. Upon returning to work, the employee is restored to their previous job or an equivalent job with all the benefits they had before the leave.
Who is eligible for leave?
The FMLA does not apply to all employers or all employees. The FMLA applies to private employers who have 50 or more employees for at least 20 workweeks per year. All public agencies, including local, state and federal government and public schools, must follow the FMLA rules.
For an employee to be eligible for FMLA leave, they must work for a covered employer. The employee must have also worked for the employer for at least a year and have worked at least 1,250 in that year. Thirdly, the employee’s job must be at a location where at least 50 employees work, or work within 75 miles of that location.
What qualifies for leave?
Only certain events qualify for FMLA leave. Covered employees may get 12 workweeks of leave in a yearlong period for the following reasons:
- The birth of a child and child care within a year of birth
- The adoption or placement of a child
- To care for a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition
- A health condition that makes the employee unable to do their job
- Any issue arising from the fact that an employee’s spouse, son, daughter or parent is in the military
An employee may get 26 weeks of leave in a year to care for an injured or seriously ill servicemember if the employee is an immediate relative or next of kin.
FMLA is a right for employees provided by the federal government, but it can also be a hassle for employers. Some employers might try to deny your leave to better suit their needs. If this happens, you may consider speaking with a lawyer who can better inform you of your rights and guide you on how to move forward.