Every worker should know about the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA.) This act provides up to 12 weeks a year of unpaid leave, allowing employees to take time off to take care of themselves or a family member and feel confident knowing that they will return to the same job or an equivalent one at the end of it.
However, even if you know it exists, you may feel unsure about how to take it or what it means for you. Here are a few basics every worker should know:
- Who’s eligible. Any individual who works for a business with 50+ employees, and has worked for at least 1,250 hours over the past year is eligible. Washington, D.C. and some states also have their own “mini-FMLA” laws that cover smaller employers.
- What reasons qualify. If you are caring for a spouse, child or parent (though not a parent-in-law), have recently welcomed a baby whether biological or adopted, or have a medical condition yourself, your situation likely qualifies. There are also some additional reasons based upon military service, for example, if your spouse is deployed.
- When you can take it. FMLA leave can be taken all at once, or intermittently. If taking leave intermittently, an employee must work with their employer to make sure it will not disrupt the business too much.
Congress also recently amended FMLA to provide additional protection, including paid leave, for leave relating to the COVID-19 virus, as reported here.
FMLA is a valuable tool for American workers. You should not hesitate to take it if you need it. There are many resources available if you have questions about whether you can take it and how it will work. Please contact our law firm if you have questions about requesting FMLA and navigating the FMLA process.