Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Under the federal Family Medical Leave Act, an eligible employee is entitled to 12 unpaid work weeks for any one of the following three reasons during any 12-month period: 1) birth or placement for adoption or foster care of a child; 2) serious health condition of a spouse, son, daughter, or parent; or 3) the employee’s own serious health condition.   An employee’s right to leave for the birth or adoption of a child ends 12 months after the child’s birth or placement with the employee. 

Other than leave for birth or adoption, the leave must meet the standard of being for a “serious health condition.”  A serious health condition is a physical or mental condition or illness that involves in-patient care or continuing treatment by a health care provider.  Where the employee seeks leave for his own serious health condition, the employee must be unable to perform the functions of the job.

Employers can require employees to use accrued paid leave – for example, personal days – as part of the 12 week period.  FMLA permits leave to be taken on an intermittent basis under certain circumstances.

For an employee to be eligible to invoke rights under the FMLA, he or she must have been employed for at least one year and have provided at least 1250 hours of service during the 12 months before leave is requested.

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