Unravelling the FMLA

Key Takeaway:

The FMLA was enacted with the purpose of helping qualifying employees keep their jobs while being able to attend family exigencies. There is some misunderstanding as to its provisions, though.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which is governed by the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) agency, is an attempt by the federal government to augment the policy of leaves for certain kinds of employees. It offers select employees of covered employers to take unpaid leave for certain purposes for predefined periods. The important aspect of this Act is that the employee may lose the pay for the period for which the leave is taken, but will retain employment and all its other attendant benefits.

Important features of the FMLA:

  • It was enacted in 1993 to help select kinds of employees enjoy the benefits of leave to care for designated types of relatives without fear of losing their jobs;
  • The definition of a relative under the Family and Medical Leave Act can vary from State to State;
  • It is not for all kinds of employees. Employees must have worked with the employer for at least 1,250 hours during 12 months prior to the date of availing leave under FMLA;
  • There are conditions on what kind of employer can grant leaves under FMLA: it must have at least 50 employees working within a radius of 75 miles from the location;
  • The employer may suggest to employee that paid leaves be used first;
  • The employer is entitled to ask for proof of the health condition for which leave is being asked;
  • Depending on the nature of illness and level of recovery, the employer may change the employee’s nature of work;
  • If the employee happens to be the spouse, parent, child or the nearest blood relative of a member of the military, up to 26 weeks’ leave can be taken.

Prominent kinds of leave granted under FMLA:

A dozen workweeks of leave in a year-long period for the following:




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