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What You Need to Know About FMLA


The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 was passed to allow employees to take a leave from work, if necessary, and create a better balance between the work environment and personal life. Employees are allowed to take unpaid time off with full benefits (employee must continue to pay for paid benefits) for any of the following cases:
  • Birth of a child
  • Adoption of a child
  • Care for a family member
  • Personal serious health condition

Time Off Payment

While employers can pay their employees for time off, the law does not require any payment. Employers are only required to grant unpaid leave. Employers can, however, require employees to use sick time, vacation time or any other personal time up before using any time provided by the FMLA. This paid leave can be counted as part of the FMLA time period if the employer properly notifies the employee in writing of this decision.

Amount of Time Off

To qualify for time off through FMLA, employees must be employed for 12 month and a minimum of 1,250 hours. The 12 month period does not have to be consecutive. Employers also must have a minimum of 50 employees working within 75 miles of that particular employee’s work site.

Employees can take up to 12 weeks off during an employer-determined 12-month period, according to the FMLA. Employers can determine the 12-month period through one of the following methods:

  • 12-month calendar year
  • Any set amount of time that is 12 consecutive months
  • 12 months from the start of when an employee’s first FMLA starts
  • A rolling 12-month period measured backward from the date an employee uses FMLA leave

Other requirements

Employees must give 30 days advance notice of their intentions of going on FMLA. The employer can then accept or reject the employee’s leave. If the employer rejects the FMLA, they must submit it in writing within two days. Once leave is granted to the employee, all decisions are final, and the company cannot retract this leave.

Employers are also not allowed to inquire the details behind an employee’s decision to go out on leave, if the employee does not wish to specify. Employers can only request a physician’s note stating that their employee will be unable to work for that amount of time. Employers can also ask about the timeframe that an employee expects to be back at work.

All FMLA guidelines are required to be posted in a public place.

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