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What is the Family and Medical Leave Act?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires that employers must provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid and job protected leave to eligible employees due to family and medical reasons. Employees are considered eligible if they have worked for the employer for at least a full year and for a minimum of 1,250 hours over the prior 12 months and there must also be a minimum of 50 employees within 75 miles.

The reasons for taking unpaid leave are stipulated as to care for an employee's child after birth, adoption or foster care, to care for an employee's spouse, child or parent that has a serious health condition or if the employee has a serious health condition that makes it difficult or unable to perform their job. Typically an employee is given time off in the even of situations dealing with grief or to attend a family funeral.

The employee in turn is required to provide information for advance leave notice. At least 30 days advance notice must be given when the leave is considered foreseeablesuch as with pregnancy. The employer has the option of asking for medical certification as well as second or third opinions. In such instances as having difficulty with the grieving process a medical opinion may be required.

During the time of the FMLA leave the employer is required to maintain the employee's health coverage and upon return, the employee must be restored to their original position or an equivalent position with the equivalent pay and benefits. Using FMLA cannot result in the loss of any employment benefit that was accrued before the start of the employee's leave. The US Department of Labor has the authorization to investigate any complaints of FMLA violations.