Family and Medical Leave Act Explained


What is the Family and Medical Leave Act?

This law was enacted for private and public employees to be able to take an unpaid leave from work with health benefits under the right circumstance. The 12 weeks of unpaid leave can be taken to recover from illness, take care of a newborn, take care of a seriously ill family member or any other reason covered under the FMLA law. The leave must occur within a 12-month period, and vacation and paid sick leave offered by the employer can be used during this time according to the FMLA.


Military Family Leave Entitlements

Eligible employees may take leave for specified reasons related to military deployments of their family members. Also, an employee providing care for a servicemember with a serious injury or illness may take up to 26 weeks of FMLA in a 12-month period.


Eligibility Requirements

FMLA does not cover every employee or employer. This law is covered under employers who have had 50 or more employees for 20 weeks within the past year. Although your company may not be covered by FMLA it could still be covered under state medical leave laws. All elementary schools, secondary schools and government agencies are covered under FMLA no matter the number of employees.

There are also FMLA requirements for employees whose employers are covered under the law. In order for employees to be covered under FMLA they must have worked for their employer for a year, they have to have worked at least 1,250 hours in that year and they must work at a site where their employer has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.


When Can FMLA Be Used?

An eligible employee can be eligible for FMLA to:

  • Provide care for themselves or a family member with a serious health condition.
  • Provide care for a covered military service member or for reasons pertaining to a military deployment.
  • Care for and have bonding time with a newborn, an adopted child or a foster child.


Who is a Family Member under FMLA?

Although a family member can be defined as many different things, the FMLA law only states it as these people if they are biological, adoptive, step or foster:

  • The employee’s spouse
  • The employee’s parents
  • he employee’s child/li>

FMLA does not cover siblings, grandparents and in-laws.


What are Your Rights under FMLA?

The employer must offer the employee a job when the leave has ended, but it does not have to be the position previously held. Although, if it isn’t the previous position, it has to be a job equivalent to the previous one. The FMLA defines an equivalent job as one with the same salary, benefits and work conditions (shift time and location of work). The law does not require employees to show proof of an illness they or their family members may have, but an employer can ask for it according to the law. So, obtaining proof can be beneficial for you in the long run.

Coastal Human Resource Group, Inc. is a Human Resource Outsourcer (HRO). We serve as a full-service human resources department for small and medium-sized businesses which provide compliance screening as well as background checks. Visit or give us a call at 251-478-7444. We’re here to help ensure that all your human resources needs are met.