The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that grants eligible employees the right to take job-protected leave for certain family or medical reasons. FMLA applies to private employers with 50 or more employees, public agencies, and elementary or secondary schools.
FMLA provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for any of the following reasons:
- To care for a newborn child, adopted child, or foster child.
- To care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition.
- To take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of their own serious health condition. (Including Mental Health Needs)
In addition, FMLA also allows eligible employees to take up to 26 weeks of leave to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness. This provision is known as military caregiver leave.
To be eligible for FMLA, employees must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, and for at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period immediately preceding the leave. Employers are required to provide employees with notice of their FMLA rights, and employees must give their employers at least 30 days’ notice before taking leave, when possible.
While on FMLA leave, employees are entitled to maintain their health insurance benefits, and their job is protected. Employers must continue to provide health insurance benefits for the duration of the FMLA leave, and upon return from leave, the employee must be restored to their original job or an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.
It’s important to note that FMLA only provides job protection and unpaid leave. Employers are not required to pay employees for time taken under FMLA, although employees may be able to use accrued paid leave (such as vacation or sick time) to cover some or all of their FMLA leave.
In summary, FMLA is an important federal law that provides eligible employees with job-protected leave for certain family or medical reasons. If you are an employee who needs to take FMLA leave, make sure to understand your rights and responsibilities, and notify your employer as soon as possible to ensure a smooth leave-taking process.