The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a commonly discussed acronym in today's workplaces. The federal government enacted this legislation two decades ago to allow employees to take a leave of absence for work if related to a family or medical reason. The FMLA is a federally run program, but many states have enacted state-level programs that provide for even more benefits. The basic purpose of the act is to provide an eligible employee with up to 12 weeks (not necessarily consecutive) within a 12 month period of unpaid leave from work. While the time off is unpaid, the act ensures job protection so that the employee is guaranteed to return to the same or similar position he was in before taking the leave. The employer must also continue covering the employee's health insurance premiums as it did prior to the leave. Ther permissible reasons for an employee to take leave under FMLA include: the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child, caring for an immediate family member who is suffering from a serious health condition, the employee's own serious medical issue, or emergencies related to a family member who is in the military.
In Part 2 of this discussion to be posted later this week, I will discuss how an employee and employer is considered "eligible" for FMLA among other issues that come up when dealing with this federal legislation.