What is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a United States federal law that gives employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to care for a family member, or to recover from their own serious health conditions. It also allows employees to maintain their health insurance during that time and maintain their job during their absence.
In addition to this, the FMLA legally binds employers to provide up to 26 weeks of job-protected leave for servicemembers who are called to active duty by the military.
When was the FMLA passed?
The Family and Medical Leave Act was passed in 1993, with the purpose of ensuring that employees who need time off for medical reasons are not forced to choose between their jobs and their families.
Who does the act apply to?
The FMLA applies to employers with 50 or more employees, including state and local government agencies, public education institutions and private schools. It protects all employees who have worked for their employer for at least 12 months and for at least 1,250 hours over the past year.
There are two main clauses:
- For working parents whose children have been hospitalized
- For those dealing with serious illnesses themselves or with immediate family members who have been hospitalized
Examples of the medical emergencies that the FMLA covers are:
- the birth of a child or related complications
- the adoption or foster placement of a child
- taking care of a spouse, parent, or child with a serious health condition
- taking care of one’s own health problems
- serving as an organ donor
- military caregiver leave
Employers covered under the FMLA must comply with its provisions. If they fail to do so, they may be liable for damages. Employees may also be able to get back pay if they lose wages or benefits because of the employer’s failure to comply with FMLA.