The federal Family and Medical Leave Act is a law that was enacted by Congress in 1993 to provide employees with the right to take off work for certain medical reasons without fear of losing their jobs. The Act applies to public sector employers and to private employers with 50 employees or more, and seeks to help employees strike a balance between their work and family lives.
The Act provides that an employee who has worked for a covered employer for at least 12 months and has worked 1,250 hours during the immediately preceding 12 months has the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for one of the following reasons:
- The birth and care of a child;
- The placement for adoption of a child with the employee;
- To care for an immediate family member who suffers from a serious health condition;
- For the employee to take leave due to his or her own serious health condition; and
- For a qualifying urgent event resulting from the fact that an immediate family member is on active duty or called to active service as a military member.
In addition to the above, an employee may take as much as 26 workweeks during one 12 month period to care for an immediate family member who is a military service member who has a serious injury or illness. This eligibility also applies to next of kin relatives such as cousins, aunts, uncles, or other blood relatives.
The 12 months of employment need not have been continuous for the employee to be eligible. The service can be cumulative over a period of time, but any service that preceded a seven or more year break does not count. The 1,250 hours, however, must have been within the 12 month period preceding the date of the requested leave. Employers may require that paid leave for sick or vacation purposes, that is offered as an employee benefit, be counted toward the entitlement to FMLA leave.
There have been recent legal developments impacting the application of the FMLA as it relates to the definition of spouse. The United States Department of Labor had amended its rules in February 2015 to include in its definition a partner in a legal same sex-sex marriage. Although there was an initial legal challenge to the rule by several states, the United States Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on same-sex marriage validated the new rule.
Sacramento, CA 95821