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What Is the FMLA? A Quick Fact Sheet

February marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Family Medical Leave Act. President Bill Clinton signed the FMLA into law in 1993. It took effect later that year.

What is the FMLA?

In a nutshell, the FMLA is a law that helps employees take sick or family leave. It gives eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a loved one. It also allows the employee to take that time for sick leave.

Some reasons employees can take FLMA include childbirth, adoption or a serious medical illness.

There are many rights and duties in the FMLA. Here is a quick summary:

Employee's Rights

  • Leave: An employee who has worked for at least 12 months for the employer, and has worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during that time period, is entitled to take a leave of up to 12 weeks.
  • Care for sick family members: The right to take leave isn't only personal, it's also to care for a spouse, child or parent with a serious medical condition.
  • Continuation of benefits: During the leave, your benefits are to remain intact.
  • Employee's job must be safe. Your job is secure for the duration of your leave. When you return, you must be reinstated to your old job or to a comparable job with the same salary.

Employer's Duties

  • FMLA doesn't apply to small employers. If your employer has less than 50 employees, the FMLA might not apply to them.
  • General notice. Employers must post a general FMLA notice to all employees, in addition to providing employees with individual notice (see next bullet).
  • Individual notification. An employee can request a leave without bringing up the FMLA. But the burden is on the employer to determine whether the leave qualifies under the FMLA. The employer must notify the employee immediately of his or her rights under the FMLA and whether or not the leave qualifies.

For more information FMLA, contact an employment lawyer or check out our related resources below.

Related Resources: