What is the Family Medical Leave Act?

CMRS Law Employment Law, Government Compliance

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was enacted by Congress in 1993 and gives eligible employees the right to take unpaid leave, under certain circumstances, without retaliation from the employer.  Under the FMLA, eligible employers are required to give eligible employees up to 12 weeks of protected, unpaid leave for (1) the birth and care of eligible employee’s child or placement for adoption or foster care of a child with the employee; (2) the care of an immediate family member (spouse, child, parent) who has a serious health condition; or (3) for care of the employee’s own serious health condition.

If your business is an eligible employer, you must provide your employees a copy of your business’s FMLA policies as part of any handbook or benefits package.  Once an employee gives you notice of an intention to take FMLA leave, you must also meet certain deadlines regarding whether that employee’s leave as been designated as FMLA leave.

If you have any questions regarding the FMLA policies that must be included in your employee handbook, or questions regarding your eligibility or an employee’s eligibility for such leave, contact one of our attorneys for assistance and guidance.

 

Frequently Asked Questions on FMLA

Required Notice

The employee must give 30 days’ advanced notice of his or her intention to take FMLA leave if such leave is foreseeable.  For example, if an employee knows he will be having surgery on a certain date, he should notify his employer at least 30 days before the surgery, if possible.  If the need to take FMLA leave is not foreseeable, the employee should give notice “as soon as practicable.”  Generally, this means within one or two business days of learning of the need to take the leave.

Employer Prohibitions

An employer is forbidden from interfering with FMLA rights, discriminating against an employee for taking FMLA leave, and from retaliating against employees that have used such leave.  Upon return from FMLA leave, if an employee is still able to perform the essential functions of the job, that employee must be restored to the same or an equivalent job.

Who is an Eligible Employer?

To fall under the FMLA, the employer must be a private sector employer that employs 50 or more employees for at least 20 workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year.  The law also covers all state and local public agencies in addition to most federal agencies.

Who is an Eligible Employee?

In order to qualify for FMLA leave, an employee must have been employed for at least 12 months by an eligible employer.  In addition, that employee must have provided at least 1,250 hours of service to the employer within that 12 month period.  Finally, that employee must work at a location that has at least 50 employees or there must be at least 50 employees working within 75 miles of the employee’s worksite.  There is an exception to FMLA leave eligibility for highly compensated employees that are paid on a salary basis, however, and these employees may not qualify.