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The Family and Medical Leave Act – Overview and Common Questions

Male caretaker holding child's hand in a hospital bed

The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor that allows eligible employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons and requires employers to maintain employees’ health benefits during leave. Under this law, eligible employees may take leave for their own or family members’ serious health conditions, to bond with newborns or newly adopted children or for certain military family reasons.

For full details on FMLA, check out our HR Compliance Overview.

Below are answers to some common questions about FMLA.

What employers are covered under FMLA?

  • private-sector employers with 50 or more employees in at least 20 weeks of the current or preceding year;
  • public agencies, including state, local and federal employers; and
  • local education agencies, including elementary and secondary schools (public and private).

What employees are eligible employees for FMLA?

  • work for a covered employer;
  • have worked for the employer for at least 12 months (does not need to be consecutive);
  • have at least 1,250 hours of service for the employer during the 12-month period immediately preceding the leave; and
  • work within 75 miles of a location where the employer has 50 or more employees.

What are the qualifying reasons for 12 workweeks of FMLA leave?

  • birth and care of an employee’s child;
  • placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care;
  • care for an employee’s spouse, child or parent who has a serious health condition;
  • an employee’s own serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform any one of the essential functions of the employee’s position; or
  • any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that a family member (spouse, child or parent of the employee) is a covered military member on covered active duty or has been notified of an impending call or order to covered active duty in the Armed Forces.

In addition, eligible employees may take 26 workweeks of leave in a single 12-month period to care for a spouse, child, parent or next of kin who is a covered service member with a serious injury or illness.

Have additional questions? We have the answers. Check out our full overview of FMLA: Common Questions.

For more information about employee benefits, our services and products, contact HANYS Benefit Services online or call 800.388.1963.

These Compliance Overviews are not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice. © 2021 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

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