employee rights under the family and medical leave act
Download a printable copy of the document.
Eligible employees who work for a covered employer can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period
for the following reasons:
• The birth of a child or placement of a child for adoption or foster care;
• To bond with a child (leave must be taken within one year of the child’s birth or placement);
• To care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a qualifying serious health condition;
• For the employee’s own qualifying serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the employee’s job;
• For qualifying exigencies related to the foreign deployment of a military member who is the employee’s spouse,
child, or parent.
An eligible employee who is a covered servicemember’s spouse, child, parent, or next of kin may also take up to 26 weeks
of FMLA leave in a single 12-month period to care for the servicemember with a serious injury or illness.
An employee does not need to use leave in one block. When it is medically necessary or otherwise permitted, employees
may take leave intermittently or on a reduced schedule.
Employees may choose, or an employer may require, use of accrued paid leave while taking FMLA leave. If an employee
substitutes accrued paid leave for FMLA leave, the employee must comply with the employer’s normal paid leave policies.
BENEFITS & PROTECTIONS
While employees are on FMLA leave, employers must continue health insurance coverage as if the employees were not on leave.
Upon return from FMLA leave, most employees must be restored to the same job or one nearly identical to it with
equivalent pay, benefits, and other employment terms and conditions.
An employer may not interfere with an individual’s FMLA rights or retaliate against someone for using or trying to use FMLA leave,
opposing any practice made unlawful by the FMLA, or being involved in any proceeding under or related to the FMLA.
An employee who works for a covered employer must meet three criteria in order to be eligible for FMLA leave. The employee must:
• Have worked for the employer for at least 12 months;
• Have at least 1,250 hours of service in the 12 months before taking leave;* and
• Work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles of the employee’s worksite.
*Special “hours of service” requirements apply to airline flight crew employees.
Generally, employees must give 30-days’ advance notice of the need for FMLA leave. If it is not possible to give 30-days’ notice,
an employee must notify the employer as soon as possible and, generally, follow the employer’s usual procedures.
Employees do not have to share a medical diagnosis, but must provide enough information to the employer so it can determine
if the leave qualifies for FMLA protection. Sufficient information could include informing an employer that the employee is or
will be unable to perform his or her job functions, that a family member cannot perform daily activities, or that hospitalization or
continuing medical treatment is necessary. Employees must inform the employer if the need for leave is for a reason for which
FMLA leave was previously taken or certified.
Employers can require a certification or periodic recertification supporting the need for leave. If the employer determines that the
certification is incomplete, it must provide a written notice indicating what additional information is required.
Once an employer becomes aware that an employee’s need for leave is for a reason that may qualify under the FMLA, the
employer must notify the employee if he or she is eligible for FMLA leave and, if eligible, must also provide a notice of rights and
responsibilities under the FMLA. If the employee is not eligible, the employer must provide a reason for ineligibility.
Employers must notify its employees if leave will be designated as FMLA leave, and if so, how much leave will be designated as
Employees may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, or may bring a private lawsuit
against an employer.
The FMLA does not affect any federal or state law prohibiting discrimination or supersede any state or local law or collective
bargaining agreement that provides greater family or medical leave rights.