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Family and Medical Leave ActPrintE-mailPDF

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows certain employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year.  It requires that group health benefits be maintained during the leave.  Leave must be granted for any of the following reasons:

  • for the birth and care of a newborn child of an employee;
  • for placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care;
  • to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or
  • to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition; or
  • to care for a spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin who is a current service member with a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty, up to a total of 26 workweeks; or
  • to assist a spouse, son, daughter, or parent on active duty (or soon to be) in the National Guard or Reserves in support of a contingency operation.  Leave must relate to a short notice of deployment (under 7 days); making child care, financial or legal arrangements; military activities; or short-term leave (5 days).

To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must:
  • work for an employer that is a public agency, public or private elementary or secondary school, or company with 50 or more employees; and
  • have worked for the employer for over a year; and
  • have worked at least 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months; and
  • work at a location where at least 50 co-employees work within 75 miles.

Leave is limited to a combined total of 26 workweeks for any FMLA-qualifying reason during the “single 12-month period.”  Only 12 of the 26 weeks total may be for an FMLA-qualifying reason other than to care for a covered service member.
FMLA leave may be taken intermittently and not all at one time.
Spouses employed by the same employer are limited to a combined total of 26 workweeks in a “single 12-month period” if the leave is to care for a covered service member, birth of a newborn child, adoption or foster care for a child, or to care for a parent who has a serious health condition.
Special rules apply to school employees.  Rules concerning service members may change.  For more specific information go to the Department of Labor website:


This article is meant to give you general information and not to give you specific legal advice.
Prepared by Community Legal Aid Services, Inc. Updated April, 2012.

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