Family and Medical Leave: Purpose, Eligibility and Benefits

If you need to take a time off to fulfill some family responsibilities, the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) become beneficial. FMLA is intended to help employees balance their time with work and family. If employees could not be there with their loved ones everyday, at least, they could be there during the hard times.

Family and Medical Leave Purpose

Balancing of responsibilities is achieved by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. FMLA is also aimed at accommodating the legitimate interests of employers and promoting equal employment opportunity for men and women.

FMLA Eligibility

To qualify under FMLA, an employee must be employed by the employer for at least 12 months or has earned a total of at least 1,250 working hours. The 12 month period need not be consecutive. Moreover, your employer must employ 50 or more employees within 75 miles of the workplace to be eligible.

Covered Employees by FMLA

Eligible employees of covered employers must grant up to a total of 12 workweek of unpaid leave during any 12 month period for any of the following reasons:

  • Birth and care of an employee's newborn baby
  • Adoption or foster care placement with employee's son or daughter
  • Care for the employee's spouse, parent or child with a serious health condition
  • Inability of employee to work due to a serious health condition.

Therefore, it becomes important to know how FMLA defines "serious". An injury is serious if it:

  • is an inpatient care
  • involves an absence of more than 3 calendar days with treatment;
  • entails pregnancy or parental care;
  • is a chronic condition or a permanent long-term condition that require treatments
  • involves multiple treatments of non-chronic conditions

However, with the enactment of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008, the FMLA was amended such that the benefits are extended to:

  • spouses, children, or parents of those who are serving on or who have been called upon on active duty in the military for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for any emergency arising from a family member's active military duty; or
  • if the above loved ones become seriously ill or injured while on active duty, the coverage may extend up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave each year.

Expectedly, upon return from leave, an employee must be restored to his job or assigned to another job with the same pay, status, benefits and terms and conditions of employment. Moreover, an employee who has been given FMLA leave is entitled to procure and maintain health benefits coverage.

The benefits provided under FMLA are valuable especially to employees who want to spend time with their loves ones. If you want to know more or you feel that your employer is violating any FMLA provisions, you may contact an employment lawyer to clarify your issues.


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