The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), is federal legislation applying to certain public and private employers. The act guarantees eligible employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for certain family medical matters or for newborns, adoptees or foster child placements.

The FMLA applies to public agencies and school employees as well as to employers of 50 or more workers within 75 miles of the worksite. Employees must have worked at least 12-months for these employers or 1,250 hours within the preceding year.

Covered Circumstances

  • Prenatal care
  • Care for a newborn child, new adoptee if under 16 and if the employee has become a foster parent in the past years.
  • To care for immediate family members with a serious medical condition.
  • If the employee has a serious medical condition and is unable to work

Serious medical conditions may include being hospitalized, incapacitated for three consecutive days from work or under continuous treatment from a healthcare provider. Ongoing treatment can also mean taking prescription medications and not necessarily having to see a healthcare provider.

Employees can be required to provide a 30-day notice to their employers if the condition is reasonably foreseeable. They may also be required to provide a medical certification to their employer.

An employer may require the employee to take paid leave before the unpaid leave applies, so long as the employee has been advised. Health benefits must also be maintained for the employee.

Upon return, the employee must be reinstated to their job or its equivalent along with any salary and accrued benefits. The job may not be reinstated if the employee would have been terminated anyway or if it would impose an extreme economic hardship on the employer.


This blog is written and published by Laufman & Napolitano, LLC