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What's the Family and Medical Leave Act and who qualifies for it?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was crafted by lawmakers as a way to ensure that employees who missed as much as 12 weeks from work due to illness wouldn't face losing their jobs. Although employers aren't required to pay employees while they're out on FMLA leave, they are required by law to continue providing them with medical insurance.

All public sector employers are required to offer FMLA to their employees. Private employers that have at least 50 workers on staff either at their facility or within 75 miles during at least a 20 week period are required by law to offer FMLA leave as well.

An individual wishing to qualify for leave under the FMLA must have been working for their current employer for at least a full year (1,250 hours) before becoming eligible for it.

An employee may qualify for FMLA-protected leave only in certain situations. If a worker finds him or herself unable to perform the essential functions of their job due to the fact that they're suffering with a serious medical ailment, then they may qualify for leave. Caring for an immediate family member that's also gravely ill may allow you to take FMLA leave as well.

New parents as well as those charged with taking care of a seriously ill child, whether biological, adopted or fostered, may also qualify under the FMLA. Parents of the latter may even be eligible to take FMLA while they're facilitating the placement of their child or helping them settle in.

Any spouse left behind to care for a child while another is away on active duty with the military, including the Reserves or National Guard, may also qualify for leave under what's known as a "qualifying exigency."

Being able to take FMLA for a parent's illness is limited to an individual's own parents and does not include their in-laws. While FMLA cannot generally be taken to care for a child over the age of 18, it can be used to take care of one unable to provide self care.

While an employer cannot ask you to turn in your medical records as a condition of you being afforded leave under the FMLA, they can require that you provide certification of any medical condition you're claiming.

If you've been denied leave, then a Sacramento FMLA and CFRA violations attorney can advise you of your rights.

Source: FindLaw, "What is FMLA? FAQ on Federal Leave Law," accessed March 09, 2018

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