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What is the purpose of the FMLA?

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is a labor law that provides job-protected leave for those who have qualified family or medical reasons. This leave is unpaid.

If you have a loved one who has fallen ill whom you have to care for or you have your own serious illness, then you may qualify for time off through the FMLA. The FMLA provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off during which your job is protected. While you are not working, your health care benefits will be maintained, so that you can use your health insurance if needed for your medical care.

Why was the FMLA created?

The primary purpose of the FMLA was to help families balance their family and work responsibilities. The FMLA applies to all public and private elementary schools, public agencies and companies that have 50 or more employees. Eligible employees can seek leave for several reasons, including:

  • The birth of a newborn child and subsequent care of that child
  • To care for an immediate family member who has a significant health concern
  • To care for a new adopted or foster child
  • Medical leave for an employee's own significant health condition

Not all employees are eligible for FMLA leave. Employees need to show that they have worked 1,250 hours or more during the last 12 months with the same employer. There are also other requirements, so it is a good idea to understand it before you seek FMLA leave from your employer. If you believe you have been wrongfully denied leave, it may be wise to talk to an attorney who's experienced in this area.

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