The Family and Medical Leave Act 1993 (FMLA) was created as a way of providing employees with a means of coping with the challenging demands of family and home. It applies to companies with 50 employees or more in one location or 50 employees within a 75-mile radius. It helps workers who, for personal reasons, may require time off. It allows up to 12 weeks unpaid leave and the employee at the end of that period is entitled to return to the same or similar position that they were in before they left. The FMLA includes coverage of the following situations:
- The birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
- The placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
- The serious health condition of the employee’s spouse, child, or parent;
- The employee’s own serious health condition; or
- Any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty.”
The requirements of the FMLA apply to both male and female employees. The benefits of the FMLA are available to employees who have been working for an employer for at least 12 months and who have provided at least 1,250 hours of service during the 12 months before leave is requested. An employer may first require an employee to use his or her paid vacation, personal or sick leave for any part of the twelve weeks.An employee who returns to work following a twelve week FMLA leave must be returned either to the same position or to an equivalent position in terms of pay, benefits and other conditions of employment. The FMLA does provide a limited exception for employees in the highest-paying 10% of that particular employer’s workforce, if reinstating those workers would cause “substantial and grievous economic injury” to the employer’s business.