Family And Medical Leave: What You Need To Know

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law granting employees time for health reasons or pressing family issues under certain conditions. Employers with more than 50 employees are usually legally obligated under FMLA to provide paid leave to qualified workers. The following article examines some key points workers need to know about this law.


The law provides for 12 weeks of unpaid leave per 12-month period as long as the worker meets certain requirements. Employees must have worked for the company for at least 12 months and have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours before they start their leave. The employer must have 50 or more employers in work settings within a 50-mile radius. This last condition applies to private employers, not public agencies.


If you meet the basic eligibility requirements you have the right to paid leave under FMLA if you or a close family member, such as a wife or child, need to address certain health and family matters. For example, the birth of a child and caring for a newborn child would qualify for paid leave under the law. Caring for a spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition would qualify as well. A serious medical condition that prevents you from doing your job would be covered also. Adopting a child or fostering a child is another qualifying reason for obtaining leave under FMLA.


As stated above, serious health conditions affecting either you or a close family member are covered by the law. But, what qualifies as a "serious" condition? The FMLA recognizes six categories that meet their requirements for a qualifying medical condition.

  1. An incapacity relating to pregnancy or prenatal issues
  2. Chronic serious conditions
  3. Permanent incapacity
  4. Being incapacitated for three days or more while requiring continuing treatment by a health professional
  5. Certain conditions that require multiple treatments, such as cancer treatment or dialysis
  6. The condition requires inpatient care

Legal Action

The FMLA gives employees certain rights that the employer is prohibited from violating. Your employer is not allowed to retaliate against you because you sought or took unpaid leave under the FMLA. Some examples of unlawful conduct on an employer's part include not granting leave even though you are eligible, using a request for leave as a reason to discriminate against you in any hiring, firing, or promotion decisions, as well as trying to convince you not to take leave. 

If an employer does violate the provisions of the FMLA, you might need to file a lawsuit to restore your rights or obtain compensation. Contact an attorney in your area for more information about FMLA law cases.