FAQs About the Family and Medical Leave Act
Provide necessary care for yourself or your family for up to 12 weeks for qualifying events
Q: What is FMLA?
A: FMLA refers to the Family and Medical Leave Act, which is a federal law guaranteeing certain employees up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave each year with no threat of job loss. FMLA also requires employers covered by the law to maintain the health benefits for eligible workers just as if they were working.
Q: Who must adhere to FMLA?
A: FMLA protects only workers of employers reaching the minimum requirements. All public agencies must follow FMLA rules, including state, federal, and local employers, as well as schools. For private employers, FMLA applies to those employers who either employ 50 or more employees for at least 20 workweeks during either the current year or employed 50 or more employees for at least 20 workweeks during the previous year.
Q: What situations qualify for FMLA leave?
A: Covered employers must grant FMLA leave for one or more of the following situations:
- The employee cannot work because of a serious medical condition.
- The employee must care for an immediate family member that has a serious medical condition.
- The birth and/or subsequent care of the employee’s child.
- The placement and/or subsequent care of an adopted or foster-care child.
- A “qualifying exigency” that arises from the fact that the employee’s spouse, child, or parent is on active duty or has been called to active duty for the National Guard or Reserve in support of a contingency operation.
Q: Do I get paid during FMLA leave?
A: No. FMLA doesn’t guarantee any sort of paid leave. An employee can elect to use paid leave that he or she has accrued. Employers can also require an employee to use paid leave as part of the FMLA leave as long as the employer provides the employee with the proper notification.
Q: Can other types of leaves count toward my 12-week FMLA leave?
A: Yes. If the purpose of the leave meets the requirements for an FMLA leave and the employer provides proper notice in writing that the employer will consider the leave as part of the employee’s yearly FMLA allotment. Such a situation typically occurs when an employee takes leave based on workers’ compensation or maternity/paternity.
Q: My employer wants proof I’m really sick. Do I have to provide medical records?
A: No. An employer can request that you provide some sort of medical certification of your serious medical condition, but you do not have to provide medical records to your employer.
Q: Can I lose my job if I take FMLA leave?
A: No, employers can’t interfere with the rights conferred under the FMLA or use an FMLA leave as a negative factor in any employment decisions such as promotions or terminations; but be aware there are a few exceptions.
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Jennifer Graff is the director of compliance at Wells Fargo Insurance Services. She is dedicated to helping people navigate the complex world of employee benefits and employment law.
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