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  • Writer's pictureDavid Manes

How Does FMLA Work?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 is a complex law that aims to help employees balance life circumstances and work responsibilities. Established over twenty years ago, FMLA is still not completely understood by employers and employees, which can cause a number of problems in the workplace.

But we can help you start to understand how FMLA works.

Family and Medical Leave Act: How It Works

Basically, the Family and Medical Leave Act was created to offer employees of eligible employers the flexibility to take care of medical issues or familial obligations, whether their own or immediate family members, for up to 12 weeks of unpaid work leave while their employer holds their job.

FMLA benefits employees of companies by promising job security. Employers reduce company turnover, training costs, and recruitment. However, leave cannot be requested unless both the employer and the employee meet FMLA requirements. Figuring out your eligibility is based on a number of factors.

Are You Eligible for FMLA?

How FMLA works is based on company and employee eligibility. If your employer fits the criteria under FMLA, the next question is whether or not you meet the qualifications as an employee to invoke the benefits of FMLA.

Listed below are the requirements for FMLA eligibility for employers and employees. If you have a question pertaining to this list, do not hesitate to contact us.

Is Your Employer Required To Recognize FMLA?

If your employer meets one or both of the following qualifications, they are subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act, requiring that they offer eligible employees up to 12 unpaid, job-protected workweeks.

  1. 50 or more employees for 20 or more consecutive weeks

  2. public agencies (State, Federal, local, and schools)

What Makes An Employee Eligible For FMLA?

FMLA employee eligibility requires that an employee has worked for the FMLA eligible employer for a year or more. If you have worked for at least a total of 12 months (1,250 hours) for your employer, you have met the first prerequisite for FMLA eligibility.

But beyond qualifying for FMLA based on time employed, employees must also request leave according to a specific list of FMLA approved reasons. The following are reasons accepted by FMLA for employees needing to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. In some cases, your employer may require documentation or certification by a health professional for specific kinds of leave.

If one or more of the below options reflects a life circumstance for you or an immediate family member, you may qualify for FMLA.

  1. a serious health condition

  2. admitted overnight into the hospital

  3. unable to work due to 3+ days of severe illness and ongoing treatment

  4. chronic conditions that require treatment

  5. pregnancy

  6. prenatal care and morning sickness

  7. bed rest

  8. maternity leave after birth

  9. adoption or fostering a child

  10. qualifying exigency leave is for when an immediate family member is called into active duty

Here’s how to request FMLA leave. Feel free to call us if you have questions.

I’m Eligible, But My Employer Refuses To Offer FMLA Leave.

A number of issues can arise when employers fail to understand the Family and Medical Leave Act and their obligations under the law to their employees, whether it is law misinterpretation or not providing enough information to employees. It is illegal for employers to violate FMLA.

If you suspect that your employer has failed to follow the Family and Medical Leave Act for one or more of the above covered reasons, contact us immediately so we can help you assess your options and figure out the best plan to guarantee your rights under the law.

Talk to an attorney: (412) 626-5626 or

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