What is the Family Medical Leave Act and why is it important?
The Family Medical Leave Act, also known as FMLA is a law enacted in1993 which states that qualified employees have the right to access an unpaid leave for a total of up to 12 weeks during any 12-month period, and in some circumstances, up to 26 weeks; (see “Recent Changes to the Family Medical Leave Act”). Certain employers are required to grant their employees access to unpaid leave due to the following reasons:
* Caring for a child after Birth
* The adoption of a child or becoming a Foster parent
* The care of spouse, son, daughter, or parent with a serious health condition
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* An employee experiencing a serious health condition which affects his or her ability to do perform their job responsibilities
* Care for family members in the military
During the leave period, employers must hold the employee’s job for them without any changes to the workers salary, work hours, or benefits.
Recent Changes to the Family Medical Leave Act
As of January, 2009, the Act permits a spouse, daughter, son, or next of kin to take up to 26 weeks of leave to care for a family member in the Armed Forces, Reserves or National Guard, who is going through medical treatment, therapy, or healing, or who is in an outpatient status or is otherwise on a temporary disability retired list due to a serious injury or sickness.
Eligible employees are entitled to a combined total of up to 26 weeks of all types of FMLA leave during the single 12-month period.
What Types of Businesses are Required to Grant Family Medical Leave?
Any business with 50 or more employees who work within a 75 mile radius of the business must allow their employees access to family medical leave if the worker meets the eligibility requirements.
Which Employees Are Eligible?
To be eligible for FMLA benefits according to the Department of Labor, an employee must:
* Work for a covered employer
* Have worked for the employer for a total of 12 months; and have worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months
* Work at a location in the United States or in any territory or possession of the United States where at least 50 employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles.
Are There Circumstances Where I Can Deny Family Medical Leave To My Employees?
If you operate a business with 50 or more employees and the employee meets the eligibility requirements, you cannot deny the leave.
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Very informative article on the basics of FMLA. Thanks for posting!
We have an full time employee who due to ‘Bells Palsy’ been working less then 30 hours since May’13. I have two questions :
1) Will she be eligible for medical Insurance( company pays for it)- it is only for full time employees working 40 hour weeks
2) As we are a company of 15 emoloyees can we move her to a part time employee
Dianne Shaddock says
Your questions aren’t as simple as they may appear because there are always so many things that need to be taken into consideration in FMLA cases. I’m at a disadvantage as I don’t know the details regarding this person’s situation: I don’t know what she’s been told and when, why she was allowed to work part time while getting full time benefits, what has happened in other FMLA situations at your company, etc. All of this to say, I’d need to know a whole lot more than would be appropriate for you to share on a public blog for confidentiality reasons.
I will say this: Based on the basic information that you have shared, it would be a mistake to suddenly change her hours to part time after you’ve permitted her to work part time while she’s been full time on the books without having a legitimate business related reason for doing so. It will appear punitive to move her “out of the blue” to part time because you are taking away benefits during a time that the employee would need the benefits the most. You are required to provide some type of reasonable accommodation and it appears that you are accommodating her by allowing her to work part time although she is a full time employee. The question is, is it a reasonable accommodation? You really need professional assistance, (either an HR professional or an employment lawyer) to discuss all of the details of this case starting from the beginning in order to get the best advice on how to proceed. It’s not the type of case where you want to get pieces of advice online. If you don’t have HR on staff, you should hire a consultant or an employment lawyer and discuss the case in detail so that you can get the guidance that you need.
Employers Supporters counter that the act, in contrast to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, is aimed at both women and men, and is part of an overall strategy to encourage both men and women to take family-related leave.