Understanding the Family and Medical Leave Act

The United States Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers covered by this law to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for “eligible” workers. In addition, these workers must be guaranteed their original job, or an equivalent position with equivalent pay, benefits, and other employment terms, upon their return to work.

Employee Eligibility Requirements for the FMLA

Eligible employees must have worked for a covered employer for one year and at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 months. They can take leave for the following situations:

  • Birth and care of a newborn child
  • Placement of a child for adoption or foster care
  • Care of a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition
  • Inability to perform his or her normal work duties due to a serious health condition

Employer Eligibility FMLA Requirements

FMLA applies to firms that employ 50 or more persons, including part-timers.
Employers must continue coverage under a group health plan during the leave. Use of the leave may not result in loss or reduction of any benefits previously accrued.

Additional State FMLA Requirements

Be aware that some states, such as Massachusetts, have placed even more onerous requirements on employers by increasing the scope to include businesses of almost any size.

If Your Firm Is Too Small to Be Covered by FMLA

You should still consider offering unpaid leave in these situations. It is just a good way to do business. You’ll look like a Scrooge if you don’t, and your employees may not understand why the law shouldn’t apply to them.

About Bob Adams

Bob Adams is a Harvard MBA serial entrepreneur. He has started over a dozen businesses including one that he launched with $1500 and sold for $40 million. He has written 17 books and created 52 online courses for entrepreneurs. Bob also founded BusinessTown, the go-to learning platform for starting and running a business.