The Family and Medical Leave Act
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is a United States federal law which provides up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave during any 12-month period to eligible, covered employees for the following reasons: 1) birth and care of the eligible employee’s child, or placement for adoption or foster care of a child with the employee 2) care of an immediate family member (spouse, child, parent) who has a serious health condition 3) care of the employee’s own serious health condition.
Commonly Asked Questions
FMLA leave may be taken “intermittently” or on a “reduced leave schedule” under certain circumstances. Intermittent leave is FMLA leave taken in separate blocks of time for a single illness or injury. A reduced leave schedule reduces an employee’s usual number of working hours per workweek, or hours per workday. It is a change in the employee’s schedule for a period of time, normally from full-time to part-time. Generally, employees must show the medical necessity for intermittent leave or a reduced leave schedule.
Employers must grant intermittent FMLA leave or leave on a reduced schedule when their own “serious health condition” renders him unable to do his job. In addition, employers also must grant intermittent FMLA leave to employees who needs to care for a spouse, son, daughter or parent with a serious health condition. Employees who desire to take intermittent FMLA leave or a reduced leave schedule after the birth of a healthy child, or after adopting or fostering a healthy child, can do so only if the employer agrees to it.
Once an employee who has been taking intermittent FMLA leave, or put on a reduced schedule, is ready to return to work, the employer must return him to his original job or an equivalent position immediately. The employer can require that he give some notice of his intent to return to work, but it can’t require that the employee take more FMLA leave than necessary so you can find a job to put him in.
It is unlawful for any employer to interfere with or restrain or deny the exercise of any right provided under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Employers cannot use the taking of FMLA leave as a negative factor in employment actions, such as hiring, promotions or disciplinary actions; nor can FMLA leave be counted under "no fault" attendance policies.
Further, an employer may not take any other adverse employment action if you complain about a violation of the Family Medical Leave Act. It is unlawful for any employer to discharge or otherwise discriminate against an employee for opposing a practice made unlawful under FMLA.
An employer may ask questions to confirm whether the leave needed or being taken qualifies for FMLA purposes, and may require periodic reports on your status and intent to return to work after family medical leave. If the employer wishes to obtain another opinion, you may be required to obtain additional medical certification at the employer’s expense, or rectification during a period of FMLA leave.
The employer may have a health care provider representing the employer contact your health care provider, with your permission, to clarify information in the medical certification or to confirm that it was provided by the health care provider. The inquiry may not seek additional information regarding your health condition or that of a family member.
This statute covers private or public employers who employ 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius of the facility where the employee works. An employee seeking leave under this Act must have worked for the employer for 12 months or longer, compiling 1,250 hours of service with that employer during the 12 months before seeking leave.The FMLA requires employers to restore employees who return from FMLA leave to the same or equivalent position with pay, benefits and responsibilities similar to the level that existed when leave began.
The Act provides special rules for elementary and secondary educational employees, civil service employees and congressional employees. It also establishes a Commission on Leave, effective immediately, to report to Congress on leave policies within two years.
Remedies include reinstatement of employment, recovery of lost wages, compensatory as well as punitive and punishing damages, attorney’s fees and costs.
Employees generally must request leave 30 days in advance when the need for leave is foreseeable. When the need for leave is unforeseeable, employees must provide notice as soon as possible.
The employer may require medical certification in support of the leave from a health care provider. An employer may also require second or third medical opinions (at the employer’s expense) and periodic recertification of a serious health condition.
The FMLA only requires unpaid leave. However, the law permits an employee to elect, or the employer to require the employee, to use accrued paid leave, such as vacation or sick leave, for some or all of the FMLA leave period.