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What to know about the FMLA

On Behalf of | May 16, 2024 | Employment Law -- Employee |

The Family and Medical Leave Act is an important law that offers certain employees job-protected leave for specific family and medical reasons.

You should understand its provisions to ensure you know your rights and responsibilities.

Eligibility requirements

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that to qualify for FMLA benefits, you must work for a covered employer. This generally includes private-sector companies with 50 or more employees, public agencies and public or private elementary or secondary schools.

You must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months and have accumulated at least 1,250 hours of service during the 12-month period preceding the leave. You must also work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.

Valid reasons for leave

FMLA provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for several reasons, including:

  1. Birth and care of a newborn child.
  2. Placement of a child for adoption or foster care.
  3. Care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition.
  4. Personal medical leave due to a serious health condition that renders you unable to perform essential job functions.
  5. Qualifying exigencies arising from a family member’s covered military service.

If you are experiencing any of these situations, you are eligible.

Notice and documentation

When requesting FMLA leave, you must provide your employer with sufficient notice, preferably 30 days in advance if the need for leave is foreseeable. If the situation is unforeseeable, you should provide notice as soon as possible. Your employer may also request medical certification supporting the need for leave due to a serious health condition.

Protection against retaliation

The law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the FMLA. This means they cannot demote, terminate or otherwise penalize employees for taking FMLA leave or filing complaints related to FMLA violations.

Returning to work

Upon returning from FMLA leave, you are generally entitled to return to your previous position or an equivalent position with equivalent pay, benefits and other employment terms and conditions.

Having to take time off work for medical or family emergencies can cost considerable income. The FMLA exists to help you.