Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

FMLA requires covered employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees for certain family and medical reasons. FMLA provides eligible employees with up to 26 weeks of leave for Service Member family leave.

Employees are eligible if they have worked for a covered employer for at least one year, and for at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months, and if the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.

Visit Time Off & Leaves of Absence for additional information.

Reasons for Taking Leave

Unpaid leave must be granted for any of the following reasons.

  • for a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the employee’s job.
  • to care for the employee’s spouse, son or daughter, or parent who has a serious health condition.
  • to care for the employee’s child after birth or placement for adoption or foster care.
  • to care for a spouse, child or parent, or next of kin who is a covered Service Member recovering from a serious injury or illness suffered in the line of active military duty.
  • A qualifying exigency arising out of the employee’s spouse, child, or parent’s active duty (or notification of an impending call or order to active duty) in the National Guard or Reserves in support of contingency operations.

When applicable, appropriate kinds of paid leave must be substituted for unpaid leave.

Advance Notice and Medical Certification

The employee may be required to provide advance leave notice and medical certification. Taking of leave may be denied if requirements are not met.

  • The employee ordinarily must provide 30 days’ advance notice when the leave is “foreseeable.”
  • An employer can require medical certification to support a request for leave because of a serious health condition, and can require second or third opinions (at the employer’s expense) and a fitness for duty report prior to return to work.

Job Benefits and Protection

  • For the duration of FMLA leave, the employer must maintain the employee’s health coverage under any “group health plan.”
  • Upon return from FMLA leave, most employees must be restored to their original or equivalent positions with equivalent pay, benefits, and other employment terms.
  • The use of FMLA leave cannot result in the loss of any employment benefit that accrued prior to the start of an employee’s leave.

Unlawful Acts by Employers

FMLA makes it unlawful for any employer to:

  • interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of any right provided under FMLA.
  • discharge or discriminate against any person for opposing any practice made unlawful by FMLA or for involvement in any proceeding under or relating to FMLA.

Enforcement

  • The U.S. Department of Labor is authorized to investigate and resolve complaints of violations.
  • An eligible employee may bring a civil action against an employer for violations. FMLA does not affect any federal or state law prohibiting discrimination or supersede any state or local law or collective bargaining agreement that provides greater family or medical leave rights.

Eligible Employee

All regular full-time and regular part-time employees who have at least one year of service and who have worked at least 1,250 hours over the twelve months prior to the start date of a leave. Any absence beyond three continuous days should be reviewed for FMLA eligibility.

Use of Accrued Paid Leave During FMLA

Medical Leave for Employee with Serious Health Condition

For the available 12 weeks of leave, the employee must first utilize all available sick leave.

When the sick leave is exhausted, accrued vacation leave, personal days, and compensatory time off must be utilized.

When the available paid absences are exhausted, then the balance of the leave will be unpaid.

Short Term Disability or Long Term Disability may be available as described in the Benefits Handbook.

Leave to Care for a Family Member with a Serious Health Condition

For the available 12 weeks of leave (or available 26 weeks of leave for Service Member Leave), an employee is entitled to utilize available accrued sick leave.

When sick leave is exhausted, or when the employee has chosen not to use sick leave for this purpose, accrued vacation leave, personal days, and compensatory time off must be utilized.

When all available paid absences are exhausted, then the balance of the leave will be unpaid.

Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Care of Well Newborn Child

For the first eight weeks immediately following birth, accrued sick leave may be applied. For employees represented by collective bargaining agreements please refer to the leave of absence section in the appropriate contract.

If sick leave is exhausted before the end of the eight-week period, accrued vacation leave, personal days, and available compensatory time off may be utilized.

For the remaining four weeks available under FMLA, accrued vacation leave, personal days, and available compensatory time off must be utilized. With approved medical certification, accrued sick leave may continue to be applied if the mother or child is ill.

When available paid absences are exhausted, then balance of the leave will be taken as unpaid.

Adoption or Foster Care Placement of Child (All Employees)

For the available 12 weeks of leave, the employee must utilize accrued vacation leave, personal days, and available compensatory time off.

When available paid absences are exhausted, then the balance of the leave will be taken as unpaid, except if the child is ill.

For Additional Information

For further details, please refer to the appropriate document for your employment status:

Contact the nearest office of the federal Wage and Hour Division, listed in most telephone directories under U.S. Government, Department of Labor.

U.S. Department of Labor
Employment Standards Administration
Wage and Hour Division
Washington, D.C. 20210
WH Publication 1420

June 1993