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Family and Medical Leave Benefits 101: A Quick Primer

Posted by Brian Vogel | Jan 11, 2016 | 0 Comments

Approved in 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows employees to take a maximum of 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave over a twelve-month period for certain family and medical reasons. The FMLA prohibits employers from denying or otherwise interfering with the rights granted by the legislation, and violations can be challenged in court by the U.S. Department of Labor. However, employees can also take private, civil action against employers for FMLA violations.

Here are some quick facts about the FMLA, so you can familiarize yourself with the most important aspects of the law.

  • Employers have a priority to comply with state or local laws that require higher standards for family or medical leave protection, rather than the minimum established by the FMLA.
  • The FMLA grants employers full rights and responsibilities regarding investigation and questioning of an employee's reasons for needing a leave of absence, including monitoring former attendance records for patterns of leave misuse or abuse.
  • To be eligible for FMLA leave, employees must work a minimum of 1,250 hours for a covered employer over the course of at least one year at a single location.
  • Reasons covered under the FMLA include: pregnancy, prenatal medical care or childbirth-related incident; a severe heart condition that prevents the employee from working; to care for the employee's child after birth or placement for adoption or foster care; to care for the employee's spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition.
  • Special leave entitlement is also available to employees requesting up to 26 weeks of leave to care for an eligible, current or former service member of the U.S. military. 

Understanding Eligibility

Per the Department of Labor's website, for you to be eligible to take this leave, you must:

  • “Work for a covered employer;
  • Have worked 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of leave;
  • Work at a location where the employer has 50 or more employees within 75 miles; and
  • Have worked for the employer for 12 months. The 12 months of employment are not required to be consecutive in order for the employee to qualify for FMLA leave. In general, only employment within seven years is counted unless the break in service is (1) due to an employee's fulfillment of military obligations, or (2) governed by a collective bargaining agreement or other written agreement.”

Do You Need Help with Your Family and Medical Leave Case?

Our experienced and compassionate legal team has won a reputation as aggressive advocates for families. We can explain your rights and options with respect to FMLA laws and deal effectively with any violations, ensuring your dignity and helping you obtain fair compensation. Please call us for a confidential consultation about your possible strategy.

About the Author

Brian Vogel

Working Hard for Workers' Rights Brian I. Vogel graduated with a philosophy degree from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia in 1982 and with a law degree from Benjamin Cardozo School of Law in New York in 1986 and has been a licensed California attorney since 1987. Employment attorney Brian Vo...


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