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5 things to know about Family and Medical Leave Act

Things happen in life, even when you have a good job. Medical emergencies are one of the most difficult things that you have to deal with. Other life situations, such as the birth of a child or an adoption might also impact your ability to do your job.

The Family and Medical Leave Act is one option that many employees can use when they need time off work for these reasons. Understanding what the FMLA does and how it impacts your situation can help you to plan for the time you need off.

#1: You must have enough time with the employer

In order to qualify for time off through the FMLA, you have to have worked at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months with your employer. You have to have at least 12 months of service with your employer. Additionally, you have to have performed work for the employer during at least 20 weeks during the previous year or current year.

#2: Only certain situations qualify

There are only certain situations that qualify for time off of work under the FMLA. If you have a serious health condition that demands time off of work, that will qualify. Time off to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition also qualifies. The birth of a baby or the adoption of a child qualify. Certain military-related needs will also qualify. You cannot request FMLA based on just needing some time off.

#3: Employment status matters

You must be an employee of the employer in order to request FMLA leave. You don't qualify for FMLA leave if you are an independent contractor. If you have any doubt about what type of employee you are, you can ask your employer for your classification. You can also check your employment conditions against what the government considers criteria for each option.

#4: The leave period and conditions are strict

You will only qualify for up to 12 weeks of time off under the FMLA per 12-month period. During this time, you won't be paid unless you use paid time off that you have earned with your employer. Your position at work must be held for you and you are entitled to keep group benefits during your time off under the FMLA.

#5: Employer criteria is important

In order for you to be covered by the FMLA, your employer has to meet certain criteria. The location where you are employed must employ at least 50 employees. An employer can also meet the requirement if there are 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.

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