Family Medical Leave Act
What is the Family Medical Leave Act?
The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) allows employees to take unpaid leave, or substitute appropriate paid leave, up to a total of twelve weeks in any twelve months, without fear of losing their jobs, for any of the following purposes:
- Birth and care of an employee's newborn child.
- The placement of a child for adoption or foster care with an employee.
- To provide care, when needed, for a serious health condition of the employee's spouse, child or parent.
- For a serious health condition of the employee that affects the ability of the employee to perform his or her duties.
What is considered a serious health condition?
A serious health condition means an illness, injury, impairment or physical or mental condition that involves a period of incapacity or treatment connected with inpatient care or follow-up or treatment subsequent to the inpatient care.
Do all employers have to abide by the Family Medical Leave Act?
No. The Family Medical Leave Act only applies to employers with more than fifty employees.
Which employees are eligible to take leave under the Family Medical Leave Act?
An employee is considered an eligible employee if he or she has been employed by the employer for at least twelve months and has been employed for at least 1,250 hours of service during the twelve-month period immediately preceding the commencement of the leave.
How does an employee request leave under the Family Medical Leave Act?
It is the responsibility of each employee to notify his or her employer of the employee's desire or need to take leave under the Family Medical Leave Act due to a qualifying medical event. When the event is foreseeable, such as the birth of a child or an anticipated medical treatment, a thirty-day advance notice to the employee's supervisor is typically requested. When an unforeseen event occurs, employees must give notice as soon as practical.
The employee is further responsible for providing what is known as a "medical certification" from a physician. A medical certification is a statement from a doctor that the employee is unable to perform the functions of his or her position or job or that the employee must provide care for a seriously ill child, spouse or parent. Such a certification must include an estimate of the time the employee needs to provide such care.
Is an employee entitled to receive pay while he or she is off under the Family Medical Leave Act?
When an employee takes leave under the Act, there is no requirement that he or she be paid for the time off. The twelve weeks is considered unpaid leave. If an employee works for an employer who offers certain forms of vacation and sick leave, the employee might be able to take advantage of those employee benefits, but once they are exhausted there is no requirement that the employer provide benefits above and beyond what is already in place. The employer is only required to grant the leave and restore the employee's job when the leave is over.