The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was signed into law in 1993, though many employees have not heard of the FMLA. In the simplest terms, the FMLA provides unpaid, job-protected leave for employees with a serious medical condition, or to care for a sick family member. Leave by an employee may be taken all at once or may be taken for certain periods as a medical condition or illness may require.
So why is the FMLA important for employees? FMLA makes it possible for eligible employees to have time to recover from their own serious illness or from child birth, or to bond with a new child without worrying that they might lose their job. And remember, leave under FMLA can be taken to care for an ill spouse, parent or child -- does not apply only to illnesses incurred by an employee.
Who is covered by the FMLA? If your employer has over 50 or more workers in a 75-mile radius, they are covered by the Act. Private employers with fewer than 50 employees are not covered by the FMLA but may be covered by state family and medical leave laws. And government agencies, including local, state, and federal employers and elementary and secondary schools are covered by the FMLA, regardless of the number of employees.
And even if you work for an employer who is covered by the FMLA, there are additional criteria to meet. First, an employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months, it does not have to be 12 months in a row (seasonal work would count). Second, and employee must have worked for the employer for at least 1250 hours in the 12 months before taking leave. 1250 hours in 12 months averages out to about 24 hours per week.
The California Family Rights Act provides similar protections in California as the FMLA.
At The Rutten Law Firm, APC, we are experts in representing employees whose FMLA or CFRA rights have been violated.