Family Medical Leave Act | Workplace HCM

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) 30 Year Anniversary


On February 5, 1933, President Bill Clinton passed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. As the 30-year anniversary of FMLA approaches, Workplace HCM understands the complexity of the FMLA paperwork and process and wants to simplify it for you. Read below to learn more about covered employers, eligible employees, leave entitlement, serious health conditions, and job protection for FMLA.

Covered Employers 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, a covered employer is defined as the following:

  1. Private-sector employer, with 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year, including a joint employer or successor in interest to a covered employer;
  2. Public agency, including a local, state, or Federal government agency, regardless of the number of employees it employs; or
  3. Public or private elementary or secondary school, regardless of the number of employees it employs.

Covered employers are required to display an FMLA poster in view of employees and applicants.

Eligible Employees 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, an eligible employee is defined as the following:

  1. Works for a covered employer;
  2. Has worked for the employer for at least 12 months;
  3. Has at least 1,250 hours of service for the employer during the 12-month period immediately preceding the leave; and
  4. Works at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.

It is important to note that the 12-month period may be nonconsecutive, meaning any and all times an employee was employed by the same employer, including seasonal work, could qualify for the 12-month requirement.

Leave Entitlement 

Eligible employees are entitled to as much as 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for a multitude of reasons. These reasons include one or more of the following according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division:

  1. The birth of a son or daughter or placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care;
  2. To care for a spouse, son, daughter, or parent who has a serious health condition;
  3. For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job; or
  4. For any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that a spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a military member on covered active duty or call to covered active duty status.
  5. An eligible employee may also take up to 26 workweeks of leave during a “single 12-month period” to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness when the employee is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of the service member.

Serious Health Conditions

FMLA section 101(11) defines serious health conditions as “an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves:

  1. inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility; or
  2. continuing treatment by a health care provider.”

While both physical and mental health conditions are included in FMLA, neither one mental health day nor one sick day does not constitute FMLA. As a rule of thumb, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division recommends 3 days of a serious physical or mental condition with continuing treatment to qualify for FMLA.

Job Protection 

Job protection or job restoration ensures an employee an equivalent job once they return from FMLA leave. An equivalent job is nearly indistinguishable from the employee’s original position in regard to terms and conditions of employment such as pay, benefits, shifts, and location.

As we said, Workplace HCM recognizes how complicated FMLA can be, even 30 years later. Hopefully, we clarified the principles for you. If not, call (856) 334-9711 or contact us here with any questions you have.


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