Family and Medical Leave Act
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act requires that employers grant an eligible employee who has a serious health condition up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave every year.1
Topics in this section include:
- How leave under the FMLA may be taken
- Military families
- How the FMLA overlaps with the ADA
Employers must also grant the same leave to eligible employees with a spouse, or a son, daughter, or parent who requires care for a serious health condition.2 The same rights are granted for the birth or adoption of a child.
Employers with 50 or more employees must offer Family and Medical Leave.
In addition to meeting the requirements regarding a serious health condition, to be covered under the FMLA, an employee must have:
- been employed by the employer for more than one year;
- worked 1,250 hours in the prior 12 months; and
- work at a worksite with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius.
How leave under the FMLA may be taken
An individual may take leave under the FMLA either continuously or intermittently. In other words, he or she can either take up to 12 weeks off or may spread the time off during any 12 month period of a year.
A parent whose child is injured in an automobile accident may take four full weeks off to care for the child initially and then may work at reduced hours for the remainder of the year using time that adds up to the remaining eight weeks of leave.
There are also specific provisions for employees requesting leave to care for certain relatives who are members of the Armed Forces.
The FMLA was recently amended to permit a “spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin” to take up to 26 workweeks of leave to care for a “member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness.”
The NDAA also permits an employee to take FMLA leave for “any qualifying exigency . . . arising out of the fact that the spouse, or a son, daughter, or parent of the employee is on active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in the Armed Forces in support of a contingency operation.”
Additional information and a copy of Title I of the FMLA and a copy of the final regulations implementing these new rules, are available from the Department of Labor
The FMLA is enforced by the Department of Labor, not the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC).
The statute is available on the Department of Labor’s website.
The final regulations may also be found on the Department of Labor’s website.
- The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination provides this resource for more information: Guidelines: Employment Discrimination of the Basis of Handicap, Section on Interrelated Laws
- The United States Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) provides more information on the following both the The Family and Medical Leave Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.