Monday, January 26, 2009

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires large employers to permit employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave if they become seriously ill, have complications due to pregnancy, become a parent, or need to care for a family member who has a serious health condition. Not all employees are entitled to this leave.

Your state might have a law that covers more employers or gives greater rights than the federal FMLA.

Some employers give leave benefits greater than FMLA requires.

• Which employers are covered?
• Notification of rights
• How long does an employee have to work?
• Must I grant leave to part-time employees?
• In what situations must I grant leave?
• Which family members are covered?
• What illnesses are covered?
• Amount of leave
• Find a Business Lawyer Now

Which employers are covered? FMLA applies to companies with 50 or more employees, either at the place where they work or within a 75-mile radius of where they work.

If you are a smaller employer, you are not covered by the FMLA. However, employers with more than 15 employees must grant pregnancy disability leave. And some states require smaller employers to give leaves.

Notification of rights Employers must post notices that tell employees about their rights under the FMLA. If you have an employee handbook, information about FMLA leave should be in that handbook. If you do not have an employee handbook, you should consider contacting an experienced employment lawyer to draft an employee handbook for your business.

How long does an employee have to work? The FMLA applies only if the employee has been working for you for at least one year.

Must I grant leave to part-time employees? Only employees who have worked for you at least 1,250 hours (an average of 25 hours per week) during the past year are allowed leave under FMLA.

In what situations must I grant leave? If your employee is covered by FMLA, family and medical leave must be granted in the following situations:

The employee suffers from a "serious health condition" that makes it impossible to perform the main duties of the job, or;

The employee needs to care for his or her child, parent, or spouse who is suffering from a "serious health condition," or;

The employee needs to care for a newborn child, a recently-adopted child, or a child who was recently placed in foster care with the employee, or;

The employee needs time off to get prenatal care, to care for a pregnancy-related illness, or to give birth to a child.

Which family members are covered? Employees can take family and medical leave for their own illnesses, as well as the illnesses of their spouses, parents and children. The law does not require you to give employees time off to care for anyone else, including brothers, sisters, grandparents, grandchildren, or domestic partners.

Henry Dahut is an attorney and marketing strategist who works with some of the largest law firms in the world. He is the author of the best selling practice development book, "Marketing The Legal Mind" and offers consulting services in the area of strategic branding and law firm marketing. Henry is also the founder of the legal online help-portal - the award winning site that helps people through serious legal and financial trouble.

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