Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
What is FMLA? The Family and Medical Leave Act took effect in 1993 to help balance workplace demands with the medical needs of employees and their families. You’re entitled to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period for your own serious health condition, or to care for an immediate family member who has a serious health condition. You may also use the FMLA for what the Department of Labor website refers to as “birth and bonding,” an extended parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child, and for bonding with a new foster child. (Immediate family members are parents, spouses and children)
Employee’s Eligible: Eligible employees must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months prior to requesting the leave. The employer must have at least 50 employees. And the employee must also have worked at least 1,250 hours in those 12 months.
Paid Leave: Your employer may require that you use paid leave first. Also check with HR about whether or not your employer will require that you use up your paid leave before using leave under the FMLA. Even if your employer doesn’t require it, you may still elect to first use accrued time for the obvious financial benefits.*Note – MN Parenting Leave Act does NOT allow employers to require use of paid sick leave.
Your employer may require proof of the serious health condition. This can be a touchy issue when it comes to your own health and that of your family. Your boss is entitled to ask for it, and if he/she does, you must obtain certification from a health care provider.
A job is guaranteed to you, but not necessarily the same job you had before. Ideally, your employer will be able to restore you to the same job you had before. According to the Department of Labor website, “an employee must be restored to the employee’s original job, or to an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.”
You may request additional time to care for a member of the military. Under the FMLA, you may take up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a serious health condition, provided that you’re the service member’s spouse, child, parent or the nearest blood relative who has been granted legal custody of the injured service member. The same stipulations for employee and employer eligibility apply, and covered service member means someone in the regular or reserved Armed Forces who was on active duty or was called to active duty.
*NOTE: Employers must continue employer contributions to health insurance benefits during a qualifying FMLA leave. Employees on an unpaid FMLA leave must make arrangements for any employee contribution owed. All other benefits are as defined in your collective bargaining agreement or employer policies.