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Overview of the Family Medical Leave Act

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid and job-protected leave from her employment. The FMLA applies to all public and private employers that have 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius of one another.

The employer is not required to pay the employee for the time off under the FMLA. Further, the employer may require the employee to exhaust all of her sick and/or vacation time during the FMLA leave. The employer may also require medical certification while the employee be on FMLA leave.

Employee Requirements

Simply because an employer is required to comply by FMLA does not mean that the employee will necessarily be covered. The employee must have:

    • Worked for a minimum of one year.
    • Worked a minimum of 1250 hours during the 12 months prior to the commencement of FMLA leave. The minimum amount of hours must have been actually worked.

What Triggers the Invocation of the FMLA?

If the employer is covered by the FMLA, it must grant an eligible employee a total of 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period of time. Some of the reasons that may trigger the invocation of the FMLA are:

    • Birth of a newborn child.
    • Care for a newborn child.
    • Adoption of a child.
    • Care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition.
    • Serious medical condition that the employee is suffering.

What Is Covered?

If the employee meets the basic requirement for coverage under the FMLA there are numerous items that are covered. Some of the items that are covered under the FMLA are:

    • Job security. The employer is required to give the employee her exact job or a similar job as she had prior to leave. The pay and benefits are required to be the same as the employee had prior to taking her FMLA leave.
    • Health benefits. The employer is generally required to continue paying the employee’s portion of health benefits while on leave. However, some employers do not continue paying for health benefits.
    • Employment benefits. The employer is required to continue to offer all of the employment benefits that the employee is entitled to.

Copyright 2011 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

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