The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a law that allows employees to take unpaid leave to care for serious health conditions without fear of losing their job.
What is the FMLA?
The FMLA requires employers with 50+ employees to provide workers with 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain medical or family reasons.
While an employee is on leave protected by the FMLA, an employer must continue to provide health insurance on the same terms as when the employee was working.
Further, when an employee returns to work from a FMLA leave, the employee must be returned to the same job with the same seniority and benefits.
FMLA leave can be taken when it is needed. FMLA leave does not need to be taken on consecutive days.
What Employers are Covered Under the FMLA?
The FMLA only applies to employers that meet certain criteria. A covered employer is a:
• Private employer with 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks;
• Public agency regardless of the number of employees it employs; or
• Public or private elementary or secondary school regardless of the number of employees it employs.
What Employees are Covered Under the FMLA?
Only eligible employees are entitled to take FMLA leave. An eligible employee is one who:
• Works for a covered employer;
• Has worked for the employer for at least 12 months;
• Has at least 1,250 hours of service for the employer during the previous 12 months; and
• Works at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.
What Medical Conditions are Covered Under the FMLA?
Employees can take FMLA leave only for “serious health conditions.” A “serious health condition” is usually an illness, injury, or condition that involves hospitalization or that involves continuing treatment by a healthcare provider.
Typically, a “serious health condition” requires three consecutive days of incapacity.
The FMLA also applies to the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of the employee’s child.
What Does the FMLA Prohibit?
The FMLA prohibits employers from:
- Interfering with or denying any FMLA right.
- Discriminating or retaliating against an employee for exercising any FMLA right.
- Discriminating against any person for opposing or complaining about any unlawful practice under the FMLA.
- Discriminating against any person because that person has:
- Filed a proceeding related to the FMLA;
- Given information relating to any right under the FMLA; or
- Testified in any inquiry or proceeding relating to a right under the FMLA.
Examples of employer conduct prohibited by the FMLA include:
- Refusing to authorize FMLA leave for an eligible employee,
- Discouraging an employee from using FMLA leave,
- Manipulating an employee’s work hours to avoid the FMLA,
- Using an employee’s FMLA request as a negative factor in employment, such as hiring, promotions or disciplinary actions.
Do you have questions about your FMLA rights? Contact Jeff.