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Understanding the Family and Medical Leave Act

If you need to take time off of work due to family or medical reasons, you may worry that you will not be able to return to work in your same position, or even the same company. However, the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) provides for job-protected leave for qualifying employees.

The FMLA allows for a certain amount of unpaid time off for specific reasons and, as long as you meet all of the requirements, you are to be reinstated to your same position, or an equivalent one, upon your return.

FMLA qualification requirements

Not all employees are eligible for the Family and Medical Leave Act. Benefits are only guaranteed for government employees and private employees that meet eligibility requirements. A private-sector employee’s employer must have a minimum of 50 employees working within 75 miles of the employee’s job site. The employee also must have been a worker at the company for a minimum of 12 months and have logged a minimum of 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months.

Entitlements of FMLA-qualified employees

If you qualify for FMLA benefits, the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division states that you can take unpaid leave for a maximum of 12 weeks within a 12-month period to:

  • Give birth and care for a newborn
  • Care for a newly placed foster or adopted child
  • Recover from a serious medical condition
  • Care for a child, spouse or parent with a major health condition
  • Deal with an emergency related to a close relative on covered active duty

If you are the spouse, parent or child of a seriously injured or sick servicemember, you can be eligible for up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period, for military caregiver leave.

During your qualified FMLA leave, your company must continue to provide your group health insurance as long as you continue to pay your share of the premium.


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