The Family and Medical Leave Act – Eligibility and Requirements


The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides federally required protection to certain covered employees who:

  1. Works for a company with 50 or more employees, AND
  2. Has worked for more than 1 year for that company (at least 1,250 hours over the last 12 months)

FMLA may be used by employees for the following reasons:

  1. Birth of a child, bonding with a newborn, or to care for a child with a serious health condition
  2. Adoption of a child
  3. Serious illness of the employee,
  4. Serious illness of the employee’s spouse, child or parent
  5. Any
    qualifying circumstance arising out of the employee’s spouse, son,
    child or parent being a covered military member on covered active duty .

employees are entitled to twelve weeks of leave in any 12-month period.
The FMLA does not require that the employee be paid during this time,
simply that the employee be allowed to take leave, unpaid, and that
their job be protected during this time.

Some Facts to Keep in Mind:

  • The definition of child is broad, and includes legal, biological and other children in the care of the employee.
  • For members of the military , the employer may be required to provide an extended period of leave of up to 26 weeks.
  • For the care of children, the child must be under 18 years old.
  • Employers are not required to pay the employee while they are taking FMLA leave.
  • Employers are required to maintain the employee’s group health benefits during the time they are taking FMLA leave.
  • The FMLA only applies to companies that have 50 employees or more within a geographic span of 75 miles.

For more information on the specifics of the FMLA, the Department of Labor provides guidance, including fact sheets, posters and FAQ’s.

Image by Flickr user HikingArtist.com (Creative Commons)

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