What should I know about FMLA?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was enacted by Congress to allow employees to take unpaid time off from their job for specific medical and familial reasons without running the risk of losing their job once they are able to return to work.

However, it is important to note that FMLA does not cover all employers across the board. There are certain criteria that must be met before an employer can be covered under FMLA. In the public sector, all public agencies are covered under FMLA. This includes all state and federal government agencies without exceptions and irrespective of the number of employees that the agency employees at any given moment.

Likewise, elementary and secondary schools are also covered employers under FMLA irrespective of the number of employees that they employ. This also covers both public and private schools such that no distinction is made between the two.

In the private sector, however, things are a little different. In order for an employer in the private sector to be covered under FMLA, they must employ a minimum of 50 employees in no less than 20 weeks in the current or previous calendar year.

In order for an employee to be eligible for protection under FMLA there are also certain criteria that must be met. Firstly they must be employed by a covered employer. They also must have been at their job with that employer for a minimum of 12 months and in those 12 months have contributed at least 1250 hours of employment.

It is important to note that those 12 months of employment do not have to be consecutive. However, if there is a break in employment that lasts over seven years any employment hour that have been accrued will not count towards the 1250 minimum unless the break in employment was due to service covered by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, "Family and Medical Leave Act," Accessed Feb. 23, 2015

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