Who is Eligible for FMLA Coverage?

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was passed in 1993 to provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave per year for qualifying medical or personal circumstances. However, employees and HR professionals alike can sometimes struggle with the nuances of the law. In this article, we’ll break down who exactly is covered by the FMLA.

Employer Eligibility

According to the Department of Labor, the FMLA only applies to companies that meet the following criteria:

  • Private-Sector: Private companies with 50+ employees for 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year.

  • Public Agencies: Local, state, or federal government agencies, regardless of employee headcount.

  • Educational Institutions: Public or private elementary or secondary schools, regardless of headcount.

Employee Eligibility

Only eligible employees are entitled to take FMLA leave. The DOL defines an eligible employee as someone who:

  • Works for a covered employer (see above)

  • Has worked for the employer for at least 12 months

  • Has at least 1,250 hours of service for the employer during the 12 month period immediately prior to the leave

  • Works at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.

Qualifying Conditions

Eligible employees may take up to 12 weeks of leave for one or more of the following qualifying reasons:

  • The recent birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child

  • A serious health condition that results in the employee being unable to perform their job

  • Needing to care for a spouse, parent, or child with a serious health condition

  • A personal matter due to a spouse, son, daughter, or parent being called into military service

Though FMLA leave is unpaid, it is job-protected, meaning that a returning worker is entitled to employment under the same conditions as if they had never left. This means restoring their regular salary, benefits, and job duties.

Be sure to note that an increasing number of states and cities have passed their own, more robust regulations requiring paid leave for qualifying situations. Make sure to stay on top of local requirements as employee leave legislation continues to evolve.

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