Labor & Employment Law Articles
Key Provisions of the Family & Medical Leave Act of 1993
- The Act applies to employers with 50 or more employees for each working day during each of 20 work weeks in the current or preceding calendar year.
- Only those employees who have been employed for a total of at least 12 months and have provided at least 1250 hours of service during the 12 months before leave is requested are eligible for the benefits of the Act.
- An employee who works at a work site at which the employer has less than 50 employees is not eligible, if the total number of employees that the employer has within 75 miles of that worksite is less than 50.
- The act requires covered employers to grant eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for the following reasons:
- Birth of a child;
- Adoption of a child or the placement of a foster child;
- To care for a spouse, child, parent with a serious health condition; or
- Where the employee has a serious health condition which renders the employee unable to perform the functions of his or her position.
A “serious health condition” is defined as an illness, injury, impairment or physical or mental condition that involves (1) inpatient care in a medical institution, or (2) continuous treatment by a health care provider.
- The employer may require an employee to utilize accrued vacation, personal, family or sick leave for any part of the 12-week leave period.
- An employer may refuse to grant leave on an intermittent or reduced leave schedule where requested for birth or placement of a child for adoption or foster care. However, the employer must permit an employee to take intermittent leave or work on a reduced schedule where requested to care for a sick family member or due to the employee’s own serious health condition.
- An employee must provide the employer with at least 30 days notice of his or her intention to take leave when the need for such leave is foreseeable. Otherwise, as much notice as practicable is required.
- An employer may require that an employee provide a medical certification of a serious health condition of either the employee or a family member.
- An eligible employee who takes leave under the Act must be restored to his or her old job; or, to an equivalent position with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. However, the employer may deny job restoration to certain highly-compensated employees if:
- necessary to prevent substantial and grievous economic injury to the employer’s operations; and
- the employer notifies the employee of its intent to deny restoration when the employer first determines such economic injury would occur; and
- The employee has the option of determining whether or not to cut short his or her leave and return to work.
- The Act does not pre-empt collective bargaining agreements and company benefit programs which provide more generous family or medical leave rights.
- The Act may be enforced by employees bringing civil suit in any state or federal court or by the Department of Labor. Any employer found to have violated the Act will be liable for:
- Wages and benefits lost by reason of the violation, or
- Actual damages where there is no loss of wages such as the cost of hiring a caretaker; and
- Interest on the above