The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible employees with unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. Eligible workers can take up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for the following reasons:
the birth of a child or placement of a child for
adoption or foster care to bond with the newborn or newly-placed child
to care for a spouse, child, or parent with a
serious health condition, including prenatal care and incapacity due to
a serious medical condition that makes the
employee unable to perform essential job functions, including prenatal care and
incapacity due to pregnancy
qualifying emergency due to the fact that a
spouse, child, or parent is a military member on covered active duty or called
to covered active duty status
Eligible employees may take up to 26 weeks of leave during a
12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or
illness when the worker is the spouse, child, parent, or next of kin of the
Do I have to provide FMLA leave?
FMLA rights and responsibilities only apply to covered
employers. If your small business is considered a covered employer, you must provide
FMLA benefits and protections to all eligible workers.
In the private sector, you’re considered a covered employer
if you have 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks during the current or
previous year. You must count someone if they worked for any day during the
What are my responsibilities?
If your small business is considered a covered employer, you must provide a general notice to your staff about FMLA. To meet this requirement, you can display a poster furnished by the Department of Labor (DOL) in plain view where all team members and applicants can see it.
If you’re a covered employer, you must keep certain records
for at least three years, including:
basic payroll and employee data
when FMLA leave is taken
amount of FMLA leave used
copies of FMLA notices
documents describing paid and unpaid leave policies
premium payments for benefits
records of any disputes regarding the
designation of FMLA leave
Is my employee eligible for FMLA leave?
Not all workers are eligible for FMLA leave. An employee is
eligible only if they meet four criteria:
work for a covered employer.
worked for that employer for at least 12 months as of the date their FMLA leave
starts. The 12-month period does not have to be consecutive and can generally
include part-time, temporary, seasonal, and full-time employment.
have worked at least 1,250 hours for you during the 12-month period immediately
before the date their FMLA leave starts. This requirement averages to a little
over 24 hours a week and generally does not include time off or sick leave used.
work at a location where you employ at least 50 employees within 75 miles of
the worksite as of the date when they notice for the need for FMLA leave.
If an employee does not meet all criteria, you cannot
designate their leave as FMLA. If you grant the worker leave under your normal time
off policies and they become eligible for FMLA during their leave, their
remaining time off immediately becomes protected under FMLA.
How does my employee request FMLA leave?
You can typically require your team to comply with your
usual and customary leave policies when requesting FMLA-protected leave, unless
unusual circumstances prevent it. Their request can either be oral or written.
The first time an employee requests leave for a qualifying
reason, they are not required to specifically mention FMLA. However, they must
provide enough information for you to determine if the reason is covered by
How do I approve FMLA leave?
If an eligible employee requests leave, you must begin the FMLA
leave process as soon as you have enough information to indicate that the need
for leave is an FMLA-qualified reason.