Under the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act, enacted in 1993, qualified employees have the right to take unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks without the risk of losing their jobs. There are restrictions—a person is entitled to only one 12 week leave during any qualifying 12-month period. Furthermore, the law does not apply to all employers, nor all employees.
To qualify for this coverage, an employee:
Most employees request FMLA leave to attend to their own health condition or that of an immediate family member. However, the act also allows an employee to take time off when adopting a child, giving birth, or seeking foster care or other placement for a child.
Generally, covered employees may request leave because of their own health condition or that of an immediate family member if the condition involves:
In addition to schools, the FMLA covers federal, state and local employers and agencies. Private employers engaged in commerce that currently employ at least 50 workers for 20 or more work weeks (or did so during the most recent calendar year) must also provide unpaid FMLA leave. Most employers are considered engaged in commerce for purposes of this statute.
The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2008 has amended the FMLA by permitting a spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin to take up to 26 work weeks of leave to care for an injured or seriously ill member of the armed forces.
To learn more about the application of the Family and Medical Leave Act, see our Family and Medical Leave FAQs.
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