Government and Business
Family Medical Leave Act
The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) allows eligible workers employed by covered establishments to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in any 12 month period. Employees may become eligible for FMLA leave when either the employee or a family member suffers from a serious health condition. It also requires group health benefits to be maintained during the leave as if the employee continued to work. To qualify for FMLA benefits, an employee must have worked for their employer for a total of 12 months, have worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months, and have worked in any territory or possession of the United States where at least 50 employees are employed by the employer with in 75 miles. This latter stipulation exempts many small business owners from FMLA rules and guidelines.
While FMLA does not apply to small businesses that employ fewer than 50 people, it does apply to small and mid-size businesses that employed 50 or more employees in 20 or more work weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. FMLA also applies to all public agencies, including local, state and federal employers, large companies, and school administrations.
Many companies already had leave policies in place before the enactment of FMLA. The need for federally mandated protection stems from several issues. First is the fact that families are changing. The two–parent one–income family, once the norm in American society, is less and less common. Two–income families and single–parent families have to deal with pregnancy, childhood illness, and a host of other situations that may require time away from work. In addition, a growing number of people are serving as caregivers for elderly parents. Whether in their home or the parent's home, this service can turn into a significant expenditure of time. Second is the changing structure of the workplace. With medical costs...