Does FMLA apply to small-business owners?

The Family and Medical Leave Act - commonly known as FMLA - is a federal law that was enacted to protect employees from losing their jobs and health benefits if they need to take an extended period of time off due to health issues that affect either themselves or their immediate family.

FMLA doesn't cover any and all types of employees across the board. The types of employers that fall under the purview of FMLA include all public agencies such as state, federal and local government including public schools. In the private sector FMLA will only apply to an employer if its workforce consists of at least 50 employees and then only if that employee has been employed for a minimum of 20 work weeks during either the current or previous year.

For those employees who are eligible to exercise their FMLA rights, the law allows for up to 12 work weeks annually of unpaid leave. The law requires the employer to reinstate the employee after they are back from their unpaid leave. Additionally, the law also requires that employers maintain the employee's health benefits while they are gone even though they are not working.

To be eligible for FMLA rights, employees must have worked for at least 1,250 hours during the current or previous year. Additionally, the employees must be working at a physical location that also includes at least 50 other employees.

Employees who are eligible for leave of absence under FMLA may request time off if they are medically unfit to perform their job duties or if they have to take care of an immediate family member in need of care due to a serious medical condition. Time off may also be requested after a baby is born or if an adopted or foster child has been placed in an employee's care. Finally, leave under FMLA may also be requested if an employee's spouse, child or parent is either on active duty or has been activated to serve for the National Guard or Reserve.

Source:, "What is FMLA? FAQ on Federal Leave Law," accessed Aug. 25, 2014

Source:, "What is FMLA? FAQ on Federal Leave Law," accessed Aug. 25, 2014

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