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What is FMLA and how can it help me?

Have you missed work in the past year due to your own medical condition or that of a family member? Even just a few days spread over time? If you have, your job may be protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act – or FMLA.

What is FMLA?
FMLA allows you to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain family and/or medical reasons – or up to 26 weeks to care for a covered military service member – without the risk of losing your job. FMLA also protects your existing health insurance during your covered leave.

What Employers must follow FMLA?
All public agencies, public and private K-12 schools, and companies or organizations with more than 50 employees.

Who is eligible for FMLA?
Employees who have worked for a covered employer at least 12 months, and worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months. However, if you work at a location that employs less than 50 employees, your employer may not be required to provide FMLA protection.

When can FMLA be used?
• For the birth and care of your newborn child (both parents are covered!)
• When a child is placed with you for adoptionor foster care
• When you need to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition
• When you are unable to work because of your own serious health condition

What is considered a serious health condition?
An illness, injury, impairment or physical or mental condition that results in a hospital stay or requires continuing treatment by a health care provider.

Does the leave have to be taken all at once?
No! In certain situations, you may take leave periodically, or even work a reduced schedule for a period of time.

How do I request FMLA?
You must notify your employer of your need to take FMLA at least 30 days before the start of your leave – unless the leave is unexpected. Your employer may request certification from a medical provider prior to confirming your leave qualifies as FMLA leave.

What can I do if my employer denies my FMLA request?
If you feel your rights under FMLA have been violated, or if you have questions regarding your FMLA rights, contact the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor at 1-866-487-9243.

For more information, please visit

This article was written by Wendy Horvath and appeared in The Alert: Volume 32, Issue 1. Click here to read a full PDF of this issue!

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