Understanding the Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is an important employment law that provides eligible employees of covered employers with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, work-protected leave for specific family and medical reasons. This law also requires employers to maintain group health benefits during the leave period. To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must work for a covered employer, be employed in a workplace where the employer has 50 or more employees within 75 miles, have worked for the employer for 12 months, and meet the requirements for hours of service. Upon returning from FMLA leave, the employee must be returned to the same job or one that is nearly identical (equivalent).

The employer may request medical certification from the employee, and it is the employee's responsibility to provide full and sufficient certification. The law also allows an employee to choose, or for the employer to require the employee, to use cumulative paid vacation, sick leave, or paid family leave for part or all of the FMLA leave period. The employer may also request recertification in less than 30 days if certain conditions are met. When an employee requests leave under the FMLA or the employer realizes that the leave may serve the purposes of the FMLA, the employer must notify the employee of their eligibility to take the leave and inform them of their rights and responsibilities under the FMLA.

At this time, the employer must also notify the employee of any specific expectations and obligations associated with taking FMLA leave. In addition, if an employer does not deny a perfect attendance bonus to employees who use vacation leave, they cannot deny it to an employee who used vacation leave for a reason that meets the requirements of the FMLA. Employees are entitled to take FMLA leave if they have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, at least 1250 hours in the past 12 months, and work in a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius. When sufficient information is available to determine that an employee's leave is being taken for a reason that meets the requirements of the FMLA, it must be designated as such and counted as FMLA leave.

For example, an employee who works 40 hours a week for their employer returns to work after 20 weeks of service covered by USERRA and applies for leave under the FMLA.

Cornelius Maxon
Cornelius Maxon

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