The Family Medical Leave Act is a complex law that entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.
Generally, private employers with at least 50 employees are covered by the law. Government agencies (including local, state, and federal employers) and elementary and secondary schools are covered by the FMLA, regardless of the number of employees.
However, even if you work for a covered employer, you still need to meet additional criteria to be eligible to take FMLA leave. First, you must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months. You do not have to have worked for 12 months in a row, but generally, if you have a break in service that lasted more than seven years, you cannot count the period of employment before the seven-year break. Second, you must have worked for the employer for at least 1250 hours in the 12 months before you take leave. That works out to an average of about 24 hours per week over the course of a year. Lastly, you must work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles of your worksite. So even if your employer has more than 50 employees, if they are spread out and there are not 50 employees within 75 miles of where you work, you will not be eligible to take FMLA leave.
How much leave is allowed?
If you are eligible for FMLA, you may be able to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected time off. This leave does not have to be taken all at once and may be taken periodically. It also requires that their group health insurance to be maintained during the leave period.