The Family and Medical Leave Act became effective in August, 1993 and is enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor Standards Administration, Wage and Hour Division. We hear from employers who are not sure whether or not they are covered by the FMLA. It can be a confusing set of rules to decipher. Here are the basic tenants of the FMLA:
- The FMLA covers most employers—but not most small businesses. Only private employers with 50 or more employees in 20 or more weeks in the previous calendar year must abide by the FMLA. The act also applies to all state and federal government employers, local governments and education employers.
- The FMLA allows for up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave for qualified employees in a 12-month period. In essence, the FMLA protects those workers’ jobs. While employers are not required to pay employees during the twelve weeks of leave, they cannot fire or lay them off because of a family or medical issue that is specified in the Act.
- Qualified employees are defined as those who have worked for a covered employer for a total of 12 months, with at least 1,250 hours worked in the preceding 12 months.
- Employers must restore employees back from FMLA to either their former position or an equivalent, and they must maintain any group health insurance benefits while the employee is out on FMLA.
- The FMLA’s covered family and medical conditions include a serious health problem requiring the employee to take medical leave; the birth and care of a newborn child; the adoption of a son or daughter; caring for an immediate family member with a serious health problem; and needs arising due to a family member’s call to duty through National Guard.
- Employees who are spouses and share in the birth or adoption of a child or the care of a family member together may only take a combined twelve weeks in a 12-month period.
- Employees who wish to use FMLA must provide the employer with a 30-day notice prior if possible. They must also provide the employer sufficient information to determine whether the FMLA applies to the employee’s situation.