Employees Entitled to Medical Leave (FMLA)

 In Employment Law, Featured

“What is the Family Medical Leave Act?”

The Family Medical Leave Act, or as it is commonly known as “FMLA” leave, is a law entitling specifically defined employees with up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave per year. The FMLA was enacted to help establish a leave policy for employees faced with serious medical conditions or those with family members faced with serious medical conditions.

“Who qualifies for FMLA leave?”

First, an employee must work for an eligible employer in order to qualify for leave under the FMLA.

Employer Eligibility

  • All Public agencies are eligible employers – meaning employees who work for a public agency are entitled to the leave protections established by the FMLA.
    • Includes local, state, or Federal government agency
  • Public or private elementary or secondary school
  • Private sector employees who:
    • Employees who work for any other employer who employs 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius in at least 20 workweeks in the current or preceding year are entitled to the leave protections established by the FMLA.

Eligible Employees

Second, an employee is eligible for FMLA leave if:

  • Works for a covered employer (see above);
  • Has worked for the employer at least 12 months;
    • The employee must have worked for the same employer at least 12 months as of the date the employee needs to commence the FMLA leave.
  • Has worked at least 1,250 hours for the employer during the 12 months immediately preceding the leave; and
  • Works a location with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.

Medical Leave Entitlement

Eligible employees are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for one of more of the following serious medical reasons:

  • Birth, Adoption, Foster
    • The birth and care of an employee’s newborn child or the placement of a child by adoption or foster care with the employee;
  • Immediate Family Member
    • For an employee to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition.
      • o Spouse
      • o Child
      • o Parent
    • Employee Medical Leave
      • o For an employee to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.

Servicemember with a Serious Illness or Injury

An eligible employee may also take up to 26 weeks leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious illness or injury. The servicemember must be the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next kin of the servicemember.

“Can I use FMLA leave in blocks of time?”

Yes. An intermittent or reduced schedule for FMLA leave can be used, which means that an employee may take their FMLA leave in separate blocks of time, or by reducing the time the employee works each day or week.

“Can I use any vacation/sick days in addition to my 12 weeks?”

An employee may choose, or some employers may require, that an employee use their accrued paid leave to run concurrently with any FMLA leave period. Meaning an employee can or will be required to use any paid vacation time, which will be included in the 12 weeks leave. An employee’s ability to substitute accrued paid leave is determined by the terms and conditions of the employer’s normal leave policy.

“How far in advance must I tell my employer I plan to take FMLA leave?”

Generally, employees must request leave 30 days in advance when the need to take leave is foreseeable. If the need to take FMLA leave is less than 30 days, or is unforeseeable, employees are required to provide notice as soon as possible and practicable.

“Can I be fired or demoted when I return from FMLA leave?”

No. It is unlawful for an employer to retaliate, fire, or discriminate against an employee who asserted their right to FMLA leave. In addition, the law gives employees  protections during and upon returning from FMLA leave. For instance, the employee must be restored to their original job or to an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of their employment.

Employer’s are also required to continue group health insurance coverage for an employee on FMLA leave.


If you believe you have been retaliated against for asserting your right to take FMLA leave, or if you were eligible for FMLA leave and were denied leave, please call Herrmann Law to speak with an employment law attorney about the specifics of your case.




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