The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that acknowledges that you may need more time off than your holiday allowance gives you.
If you and meet the qualifying condition, your employer must allow you unpaid leave. If they do not, or if they retaliate against you for taking it, you may need to take legal action to protect your employee rights.
The FMLA applies to all federal and local government agencies, regardless of size.
It also applies to most private companies that employ 50 or more people for more than 20 weeks a year. Note, some employers may be exempt if the staff is spread out over a wide area.
To qualify as an employee, you must have worked at least 1,250 hours for the employer during the previous 12 months.
What situations does the FMLA cover?
You can only take time off for specific reasons:
- To spend time with your newborn child
- To help a child that you adopt settle
- To care for a family member
- To cover because a family member is on military duty
The definition of a family member is restricted. If your spouse, child or parent is ill, you should be fine. If it is Great Aunt Mary or your mother-in-law, you are unlikely to succeed.
The FMLA allows you a maximum of 12 weeks per year unpaid leave on top of your paid allowance. You might be able to seek more time off if the family member you need to care for is a servicemember.
If you struggle to get the family medical leave you need or feel your employer has penalized you for taking it, finding out more about the options to remedy your situation will be crucial.