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The Family and Medical Leave Act: 20 Years and Counting

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), celebrated its 20th anniversary earlier this year. Since 1993, workers have used FMLA leave to care for children and other family members more than 100 million times, secure in the knowledge that their job would be there upon their return. However, we know women still face many barriers to full participation in the workforce, and there is a continuing need to adopt practices that meet working mothers’ (and fathers’) needs in the 21st century workplace.

The above information is an official blog post presented by Latifa Lyles, Acting Director of the Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor. Latifa also presented Celebrating Mothers, Supporting Families, which is a FMLA survey with information on working mothers and work-life balance.

Digital ID 805175, New York Public LibraryFact Sheet #28: The Family and Medical Leave Act, provides general information about which employers are covered by the FMLA, when employees are eligible and entitled to take FMLA leave, and what rules apply when employees take FMLA leave.

Covered Employers

The FMLA only applies to employers that meet certain criteria. A covered employer is a:

  • Private-sector employer, with 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year, including a joint employer or successor in interest to a covered employer;
  • Public agency, including a local state, or Federal government agency, regardless of the number of employees it employs, or
  • Public or private elementary or secondary school, regardless of the number of employees it employs.

Eligible Employees:

Only eligible employees are entitled to take FMLA leave. An eligible employee is one who:

  • Works for a covered employer;
  • Has worked for the employer for at least 12 months;
  • Has at least 1,250 hours of service for the employer during the 12 month period immediately preceding the leave*; and
  • Works at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.

* Special hours of service eligibility requirements apply to airline flight crew employees. See Fact Sheet 28J: Special Rules for Airline Flight Crew Employees under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Leave Entitlement

Eligible employees may take up to 12 workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:

  • The birth of a son or daughter or placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care;
  • To care for a spouse, son, daughter, or parent who has a serious health condition;
  • For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job; or
  • For any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that a spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a military member or covered active duty or call to covered active duty status.

For information on employment, please visit Job Search Central at 188 Madision Avenue and 34th Street.



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