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The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) requires Companies with 50 or more employees to allow eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within any 12 month period for qualified family and medical events and be restored to the same or equivalent position upon their return.  The 12-month period is calculated as follows: “rolling” 12-month period in which the 12 month period is measured backward from the date an employee uses FMLA leave. FMLA leave taken within the 12 preceding months will reduce the amount of leave entitlement under this provision.

Employees may be eligible for FMLA leave if they have worked for a company for at least 12 months (which need not be consecutive), and for at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 calendar months.  Employees must also be employed at a worksite that has 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius.

If there are State Family Leave laws as well as the Federal Family and Medical Leave law that affect employees, the more generous provisions of the law will apply.

Eligible employees are entitled to:

  • Twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for:
    • the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
    • the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
    • to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
    • a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;
    • any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty;” OR
  • Twenty-six workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the servicemember’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (military caregiver leave).

The FMLA permits employees to take leave on an intermittent basis or to work a reduced schedule under certain circumstances.

  • Intermittent/reduced schedule leave may be taken when medically necessary to care for a seriously ill family member, or because of the employee’s serious health condition.
  • Intermittent/reduced schedule leave may be taken to care for a newborn or newly placed adopted or foster care child only with the employer’s approval.

Employees needing intermittent/reduced schedule leave for foreseeable medical treatment must work with their employers to schedule the leave so as not to unduly disrupt the employer’s operations, subject to the approval of the employee’s health care provider. In such cases, the employer may transfer the employee temporarily to an alternative job with equivalent pay and benefits that accommodate recurring periods of leave better than the employee’s regular job.

What can an employer require of its employees under FMLA?

  • Employers may request OR require that employees exhaust their accrued paid leave to cover some or all of the FMLA leave.
  • Employers may require medical certification in order to grant leave for a serious health conditions.  In this case, the employer must give the employee 15 calendar days to obtain such certification.
  • Employer may require the employees seeking FMLA leave provide advance notice such as:
    • 30 day advance notice when the need is foreseeable;
    • Notice “as soon as practicable”
    • Sufficient information for the employer to understand that the requested leave is for an FMLA-qualifying reason

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