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Can out-of-state employees qualify for FMLA?

On Behalf of | May 14, 2024 | FMLA |

Employees can seek help from the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) when dealing with a serious health condition or facing a family crisis. This federal law, and comparable leave laws in Washington, D.C. and in many states, allow employees to take unpaid leave for specific family and medical reasons. Although unpaid, the leave is job-protected, meaning that employees can return to their jobs after their leave ends.

But what if the employee lives in another state and works in Washington, D.C., or telecommutes to an employer in Washington, D.C.? Their eligibility depends on specific requirements set by the law.

Requirements for in- and out-of-state employees

Out-of-state employees can indeed qualify for the federal FMLA. The law’s requirements focus on employment conditions, not the employee’s place of residence. However, before an employee considers applying, an employee must meet several essential requirements:

  1. The employee has worked for their employer for at least 12 months. These 12 months do not need to be consecutive, but they should be within the last seven years unless the break is because of military service or a written agreement says otherwise.
  2. The employee has clocked in at least 1,250 hours of work during the year leading up to the start of the leave, which is the equivalent of about 25 hours per week.
  3. The employer has a workforce of 50 or more people working within 75 miles of where the employee clocks in for work.

Note that the leave laws in D.C. and some states cover smaller employers, and D.C. also has a separate, paid leave statute.  If an employee meets the requirements for the federal FMLA, out-of-state employees working in D.C. can take up to 16 weeks of unpaid time off every two years. They can use this time to deal with their own health issues or with certain family situations.

When to seek legal help

Understanding the basic requirements of FMLA eligibility is a crucial first step. Regardless of where an individual resides, if they work in Washington D.C., they usually have rights under the FMLA or the D.C. local version. These rights can provide protection when they need time off for medical or family reasons.

However, understanding eligibility can be challenging, especially for those who live or work outside D.C. or the state where their employer is located. The nuances of employment law can be difficult to understand, and specific employment conditions, such as part-time status or telecommuting arrangements, can further complicate matters.

A legal professional can be beneficial in these situations. They can clarify the specific legal rights and guide the employee in resolving their issue.

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