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What is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

FMLA is a federal law that entitles employees to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. This time can be used, over the course of 12 months, to care for a newborn, a newly adopted child, a seriously ill family member, an employee’s own health conditions, in situations of qualifying exigency to be with an employee’s spouse, parent or child if they are an active service member or have an impending call to active duty in support of a contingency operation, or for the care of an injured service member if the service member is the employee’s spouse, child, parent, or “next of kin”.

When can an employee take FMLA?
  • When the employee is having or adopting a baby
  • When the employee’s child, spouse or parent has a serious health condition
  • When the employee has a serious health condition
  • When the employee is needed to care for an injured service member if the service member is the employee’s spouse, child, parent, or “next of kin”
  • When the employee needs to be with the employee’s spouse, parent or child if they are an active service member in support of a contingency operation or have an impending call to active duty in support of a contingency operation
How do I know if an employee is eligible for FMLA?
The employer must have at least 50 employees (for 20 work weeks per year) that work within 75 miles of the employee’s work site
and
The employee must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months
and
The employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the last 12 months.
Will an employee be paid for hours protected under FMLA?

No. The FMLA does not require your employer to pay you during your leave.

How is "family" defined under FMLA?

“Family members” are:

  • The employee’s parent
  • The employee’s child, including adult children who are incapable of caring for themselves
  • The employee’s spouse when he or she has a serious medical condition
  • The employee’s “next of Kin” but only in situations of caring for an injured service member
An employee's mother-in-law or sibling has a serious medical condition. Can the employee request protection under FMLA?

No. Employees have the right to take leave only to care for someone who is a biological or adoptive parent. An employee can also take leave to care for an individual who acted as his or her parent during the employee’s childhood.

How much leave is an employee entitled to under FMLA?

An employee who is eligible for FMLA is entitled to a minimum of 12 weeks of leave per year. (Some employers and states allow for additional leave.) If taking leave to care for an injured service member an employee is eligible for a one time allotment of 26 weeks in a single 12 month period.

Can an employee take a few hours every week to take a family member to a medical appointment?

Yes. Family leave may be taken intermittently when medically necessary. An employee may take leave in blocks of time such as an hour, a half-day, a day, a week, four weeks or 12 weeks- to care for a family member.

Will an employee who takes 12 weeks for his or her own personal medical condition be entitled to another 12 weeks to take care of a family member?

No. Under FMLA employees are entitled to a total of 12 weeks of FMLA leave in a year.

What if an employee is required to take more than 12 weeks off?

Under FMLA after 12 weeks has been taken in a year, the employer is not required to reinstate the employee.

The employee's doctor is requesting that she take time off before the birth of her child. Can the employee do this?

Yes. FMLA covers any pregnancy-related leave that is medically necessary.

Does an employee need to prove that he or she or a family member has a serious health condition?

Yes. Employees will need to have a doctor complete a medical-certification form.

Will an employee have the same job when he or she returns from FMLA leave?

The employer must reinstate an employee to the position held before leave began or must provide a position that has the same benefits, pay, working conditions and seniority.

Will an employee's seniority be affected if he or she takes FMLA leave?

No. When the employee returns from leave he or she is entitled to the same seniority he or she had before the leave. Employees are not entitled to earn seniority during their leave.

Will an employee have insurance while on leave?

The employers must continue to pay for the employee’s health insurance coverage as it normally would. If an employee contributes to the health-insurance plan he or she is required to continue making payments while on leave.

Can the employer stop making insurance payments?

Yes. If an employee does not return to work after 12 weeks or if an employee tells the employer that he or she does not intend to return to work, the employer can stop making insurance payments. If an employee does not return from leave, the employer may require the employee to pay back the money paid to maintain the employee’s health insurance during leave.