The Family and Medical Leave Act was implemented in 1993. This act allows eligible employees to take job-protected leaves of absence for certain qualified family events or medical conditions. While taking a qualified leave of absence under the FMLA, employees are also provided with continuation of their employer's group medical insurance coverage. The Department of Labor outlines the maximum FMLA time limit allowed for specific circumstances.
Eligible employees are able to take up to 12 weeks of leave during a 12-month period for events, such as a serious medical condition, to care for a spouse, child or parent with a serious medical condition or to care for a newborn or adopted child. The Department of Labor defines a “serious medical condition” as any medical condition that prevents an individual from performing one or more essential life functions.
In 2009, the Department of Labor issued a Final Rule under the FMLA which outlined leave entitlements for military service members. Under the Final Rule, up to 26 weeks of leave may be taken during a 12-month period to care for a military family member. Relatives covered under the military caregiver leave guidelines include an employee’s spouse, child, parent or next of kin.
In some cases, an employee may take his FMLA leave intermittently instead of consecutively. Qualified situations include a medical condition that prevents an employee from performing all of the primary functions of her job or to care for an eligible servicemember with a serious medical condition. Intermittent leave does not affect the total amount of FMLA time available to the employee.
Who Is Eligible for FMLA?
To be eligible for FMLA, an employee must work for a covered employer for at least one year, and have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during the past 12 months. A covered employer, as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor, is a private employer with 50 or more employees or any state or local government employer.