What is FMLA?

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What is FMLA?
FMLA stands for “Family and Medical Leave Act”. It is an act provided by law allowing employees to take a 12-week leave in cases like giving birth to a child, adopting a child, taking care of a family member, and if they themselves are seriously ill. FMLA was enacted into law by the US government in 1993 for the main purpose of providing some sort of balance between an employee’s life in the office and at home, especially during a medical crisis.

Covered under FMLA are employees who already rendered 1,250 hours of service and worked for a covered employer for 1 year. The 12-week leave can also be taken intermittently depending on the employees needs. This particular leave is typically “unpaid”, but employees are allowed to substitute any earned leave credits into this type of leave. But before availing of this leave, employees are expected to notify their respective employers 30 days prior to the intended date of leave. And during this period, employees may be asked to submit medical certificates indicating the need for such leave. A medical certificate is also required once the employee decides to return to work. And when the employees return to work, the law provides that their position, benefits, and salary are unchanged.

On the employer side, the law requires companies with more than 50 employees living within a 75-mile radius from the working site to implement the provisions of FMLA. But for companies considered as public agencies, like all schools (whether private or public), they are all required to implement FMLA. Employers are mandated by law to allow employees to take the 12-week leave provided that these employees already worked for 12 months, though not necessarily consecutive. And in the case of employees that were not able to notify the employer 30 days prior to the start of supposed the medical leave, the employer has the right to delay or re-schedule the intended leave.

Careful review must be done on each provision of FMLA by both the employee and the employer so as not to misinterpret the guidelines and abuse the system and to create a harmonious balance between the two parties.

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