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Family Medical Leave Act

Your Rights under the Family Medical Leave Act

In February 1993, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to enable workers to care for themselves or for family members without fear of job loss, harassment, or loss of benefits.

FMLA entitles employees with at least 12 months of employment and who have worked 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months, to take up to 12 weeks of leave within a 12 month period. This work requirement is prorated for part-time employee.   If you worked half-time, you would be entitled to 30 days of leave (or 60 half-days).

Leave may be taken for:

  • the employee's own serious illness;
  • the care of a serious ill child, spouse, or parent;
  • the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child.

In some circumstances FMLA leave is unpaid. However, employees must use accrued paid sick leave for their own illness before taking unpaid leave. For the care of qualifying relatives, employees are not required to take sick leave, but may use up to 30 days per year of paid sick leave. You may use paid vacation time for other leaves permitted by the Act.

If your leave is foreseeable, you must give your supervisor at least 30 days notice, or else the leave can be denied until 30 days have elapsed.

Don’t forget that you must clearly state that the leave is for FMLA purposes.  This way management cannot categorize your leave in any other manner. 

What is a "serious health condition?"

Under the FMLA, a "serious health condition" is an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves any of the following:

  • Incapacity connected with inpatient care at a hospital or other medical facility or;
  • Incapacity causing absence of at least three calendar days of work or school, or other daily activities and involving continuing treatment by (or under supervision of) a health care provider or;
  • Continuing treatment by (or under supervision of) a health care provider for chronic or long-term conditions which likely would cause absences of three or more days if untreated, and for prenatal care.

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