Understanding FMLA Requirements and Responsibilities

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees to take unpaid, job protected leave for family and medical reasons. However, it only applies to certain employers.

It applies to private-sector employers with 50 or more employees. It also includes public agencies and public or private elementary or secondary schools, regardless of the number of people they employ.

Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for FMLA, a person must work for an eligible employer for at least 12 months, have worked at least 1,250 hours for the employer during the 12-month period immediately preceding the leave and must work for an employer that has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.

When the leave is foreseeable, the employee must request leave 30 days in advance or if it is not foreseeable, employees must provide notice to the employer as soon as possible.

Employees who qualify can take 12 work weeks of leave in a 12-month period for the birth or adoption of a child, to care for a spouse, son, daughter or parent with a serious health condition or who is on active-duty military service and for the employee’s own serious health condition.

Employer Responsibilities

FMLA requires the employer to restore the employee to his or her original job or an equivalent job once he or she returns from FMLA leave.

Employers cannot count FMLA usage against the employee’s attendance and are required to continue group health coverage under the same terms as before the leave.

If employees are concerned that they have not received the FMLA protections they are entitled to under the law, an experienced attorney can review the situation and offer advice about next steps.

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