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Family and Medical Leave Act hits adulthood

Having a sick child shouldn’t cost a person their job or health coverage. Neither should a spouse’s illness lead to either of those outcomes. The same is true for having a baby or taking time to care for a newborn.

Before the Family and Medical Leave Act was made law, however, those outcomes were possible for some workers. The FMLA has been protecting the jobs and benefits of eligible women and men for 21 years now, helping keep American families whole and healthy.

Even though the FMLA has entered adulthood, there are still employers who make it difficult for employees to use their protected leave. There are also employers who discriminate against or retaliate against those who make use of the protections offered under FMLA.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor website, the law provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for eligible employees, including those in the following situations:

  • A health condition that renders the worker “unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job”
  • Birth of a child; caring for the newborn during its first year
  • Caring for a worker’s child, spouse or parent with a serious medical condition
  • Military caregiver leave to tend to a service member with serious illness or injury

If a person qualifies for FMLA leave, their job has to be there when they return and their employer has to continue paying their portion of health insurance costs. According to a recent article on FMLA’s birthday, the law has been put to use more than 100 million times in its 21 years.

Those who have been denied proper use of its protections should speak with an employment law attorney experienced in protecting workplace rights. 

Source: The Hill, "FMLA turns 21," Ellen Bravo, August 5, 2014

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