Most employers must adhere to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but what is it and what does it mean? How and when are employees at your company eligible for FMLA benefits? We’ll break it all down here.
What is FMLA?
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993—shortened to FMLA—is a U.S. labor law requiring covered employers to provide their employees with job-protected, unpaid leave for qualifying family and medical reasons. During this leave, employees are entitled to continuing coverage of their employer’s health plan under the same conditions as if they were not on leave.
What is a Covered Employer?
A covered employer is identified as an organization that has 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks in the current or previous calendar year, in the private sector. Employers who are classified as public agencies (e.g., federal, state, and local government) are considered covered employers under FMLA regardless of employee count. Employees are counted towards the 50 or more criteria including:
- Full-time, part-time, temporary, or seasonal workers.
- Any employee who works in the U.S. or any U.S. territory.
- Any employee whose name appears on the company’s payroll records, regardless of whether compensation was received for the pay cycle.
- Any employee on paid or unpaid leave so long as there is a reasonable expectation the employee will return to work.
- Employees of foreign companies operating in the U.S.
What Are Employees Entitled to with FMLA?
Employees under FMLA are entitled to the following leave benefits:
- 12 workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for:
a. The birth and care of a child within one year of birth.
b. The placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement.
c. Caring for the employee’s spouse, children, or parent who has a serious health condition.
d. A serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform their essential job functions.
e. Any qualifying leave arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, children, or parent is a covered military member on covered active duty.
- Twenty-six workweeks of leave in a 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember who is seriously injured or ill provided that servicemember is the employee’s spouse, child, parent, or next of kin.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements for Employees?
An eligible employee is one who:
- Works for a covered employer.
- Has worked for that employer for at least 12 months as of the first date of FMLA leave.
- Has at least 1,250 hours of service for the employer during the 12-month period preceding the FMLA leave.
- Works at a location where the employer employs 50 or more workers within 75 miles of the worksite as of the date the employee provides their notice of leave.
For remote employees who don’t necessarily meet the last criteria, the worksite is the office to which they report, or from where they receive their assignments.
After an employer has determined their employee is eligible for FMLA, they need to provide an Eligibility Notice to the employee. This can be done orally or in writing but lets the employee know they are eligible. The Eligibility Notice must be provided to the employee within five days of their initial leave request.
It’s imperative that employers know their responsibility as it pertains to labor laws, especially FMLA. Having a knowledgeable and reliable HR team is the best way to ensure you are meeting all requirements. VensureHR can help with your HR needs. Our team of professionals is well-versed in FMLA and other labor laws to make sure your business is compliant and helps you with determining employee eligibility and ensuring proper communication. Schedule a call with us to learn more.