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Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law passed in 1993. It requires all covered employers to provide employees with unpaid, job-protected leave for a number of family and medical reasons. FMLA regulations apply to both public agencies  at the state, local, and federal level and any private company that employs 50 or more employees for at least 20 weeks per year.

According to the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor, in order to qualify for leave under the FMLA, an employee must have worked 1,250 hours during the 12 months leading up to the leave period and have worked for the employer for at least 12 months. The employee can not lose their positions within the company during this leave period, and employers must maintain all regular group health benefits. The FMLA does not require employers to provide paid leave, although some state and local labor laws may.

Employees are entitled to take FMLA leave for reasons including:

  • The birth, adoption, or foster care of a child
  • Caring for a family member — narrowly defined as a spouse, child, or parent — with a serious health condition
  • The employee experiencing a serious health condition that renders them unable to perform the essential functions of their job
  • Exigencies related to a close family member’s active duty status in the National Guard, Reserves, or Regular Armed Forces

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