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Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

March 06, 2008

Synopsis:

Covered employers must grant an eligible employee up to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:

• for the birth and care of the newborn child of the employee;
• for placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care;
• to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or
• to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.

Who is Covered:

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides a means for employees to balance their work and family responsibilities by taking unpaid leave for certain reasons. The Act is intended to promote the stability and economic security of families as well as the nation’s interest in preserving the integrity of families.

The FMLA applies to any employer in the private sector who engages in commerce, or in any industry or activity affecting commerce, and who has 50 or more employees each working day during at least 20 calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year.

The law covers all public agencies (state and local governments) and local education agencies (schools, whether public or private). These employers do not need to meet the “50 employee” test. Title II of FMLA covers most federal employees, who are subject to regulations issued by the Office of Personnel Management.

To be eligible for FMLA leave, an individual must (1) be employed by a covered employer and work at a worksite within 75 miles of which that employer employs at least 50 people; (2) have worked at least 12 months (which do not have to be consecutive) for the employer; and (3) have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately before the date FMLA leave begins.

Basic Provisions/Requirements:

The Family and Medical Leave Act was amended on January 28, 2008. Please visit Wage and Hour’s Web page for additional information.

The FMLA provides an entitlement of up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave during any 12-month period for the following reasons:

• Birth and care of the employee’s child, or placement for adoption or foster care of a child with the employee;
• Care of an immediate family member (spouse, child, parent) who has a serious health condition; or
• Care of the employee’s own serious health condition.

If an employee was receiving group health benefits when leave began, an employer must maintain them at the same level and in the same manner during periods of FMLA leave as if the employee had continued to work. Usually, an employee may elect (or the employer may require) the use of any accrued paid leave (vacation, sick, personal, etc.) for periods of unpaid FMLA leave.

Employees may take FMLA leave in blocks of time less than the full 12 weeks on an intermittent or reduced leave basis when medically necessary. Taking intermittent leave for the placement, adoption, or foster care of a child is subject to the employer’s approval. Intermittent leave taken for the birth and care of a child is also subject to the employer’s approval except for pregnancy-related leave that would be leave for a serious health condition.

When the need for leave is foreseeable, an employee must give the employer at least 30 days notice, or as much notice as is practicable. When the leave is not foreseeable, the employee must provide such notice as soon as possible.

If an employee was receiving group health benefits when leave began, an employer must maintain them at the same level and in the same manner during periods of FMLA leave as if the employee had continued to work. Usually, an employee may elect (or the employer may require) the use of any accrued paid leave (vacation, sick, personal, etc.) for periods of unpaid FMLA leave.

Employees may take FMLA leave in blocks of time less than the full 12 weeks on an intermittent or reduced leave basis when medically necessary. Taking intermittent leave for the placement, adoption, or foster care of a child is subject to the employer’s approval. Intermittent leave taken for the birth and care of a child is also subject to the employer’s approval except for pregnancy-related leave that would be leave for a serious health condition.

Employee Rights

The FMLA provides that eligible employees of covered employers have a right to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave in any 12-month period for qualifying events without interference or restraint from their employers. The FMLA also gives employees the right to file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor’s Employment Standards Administration, file a private lawsuit under the Act (or cause a complaint or lawsuit to be filed), and testify or cooperate in other ways with an investigation or lawsuit without being fired or discriminated against in any other manner.

Recent Amendments: On January 28, 2008, President Bush signed into law H.R. 4986, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2008 (NDAA), Pub. L. 110-181. Among other things, section 585 of the NDAA amends the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) to permit a “spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin” to take up to 26 workweeks of leave to care for a “member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness.”

Official URL: http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/fmla/#fact
Read more: http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/fmla/NDAA_fmla.htm


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