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Who is Eligible for FMLA Medical Leave?

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on August 31, 2011 1:32 PM

If you've ever had to take time off work to handle family emergencies or because of a medical issue, you might have qualified for FMLA medical leave.

The FMLA, or Family and Medical Leave Act, is a federal law that grants employees the right to take time off work to deal with certain personal issues.

So, what are some of the basics of the FMLA?

What kinds of employers fall under the FMLA?

FMLA applies to nearly all businesses. Employers that are state, local or federal government agencies are covered by the FMLA. And, all private businesses that affect interstate commerce are also covered by the FMLA if they employ more than 50 employees in twenty or more weeks in the current or prior calendar year.

What employees are eligible?

U.S.-based employees that are employed for at least twelve months are eligible if they worked for at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months preceding the leave.

What kind of medical or family leave is provided?

Employees can take up to twelve weeks of leave. Leaves can be unpaid, but can also be combined with any paid leave that the employee has accrued. Employees can take FMLA leaves for a variety of reasons, including the birth of a child, to care for a family member, to handle their own medical condition, pregnancy, or treatments of chronic conditions.

What happens after the FMLA leave?

Employees who take a FMLA leave are entitled to be restored to their former position. That is, unless the employee is a "key" employee, defined as a salaried employee who is one of the top 10% highest paid employees in a 75-mile radius. Employers must inform "key" employees of their status before they take their leave.

Of course, the FMLA medical leave may not fully encompass all your rights. Different states have also enacted their own laws, and in states with no medical leave laws the FMLA will be followed by default. If you have any questions, you should consider talking with an employment attorney.

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