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FMLA and employment

Life happens, and when it does, sometimes employees need to take time to address personal issues without worrying about their jobs. This may be especially concerning for hourly wage workers.

Thankfully, there is legislation in effect such as the Family and Medical Leave Act that protects certain employees when they need to take time off. There are a few key facts to understand about the FMLA and its effect on employment.

The basics

In a nutshell, the Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees to take up to 12 weeks off from their job each year. Though those weeks are unpaid, they provide job security and allow workers to maintain their group health benefits during the hiatus. Some of the common reasons employees are able to utilize the FMLA include:

  • Serious health conditions
  • Care of an immediate family member
  • Childbirth or newborn care
  • Child placement for adoption or foster care

The Department of Labor provides a guidebook for employees that fully explains the various aspects of the FMLA. Those looking to take leave under the act may find it helpful to review the guide to fully understand their rights and responsibilities.


To be eligible for the FMLA, individuals must meet certain requirements. In essence, a person must be an employee who has worked for the company for a 12-month period. Depending on the circumstances, the timeframe may or may not be consecutive. 


If the need for leave is foreseeable, an employee must request it in accordance with company policy, which is usually at least 30 days ahead of time. On the other hand, employees must notify employers of emergencies as soon as possible considering the circumstances. For events that qualify for medical reasons, the company may require certification of the health issue by a health care provider. Certain employers may have other requirements as well. Upon returning to work, employers must reinstate employees in the same positions or positions of equal rank and pay.

These are a few highlights of the act. If you or a loved one face an extended period away from work, make sure you understand how the FMLA may benefit your situation.

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