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Understanding the Family Medical Leave Act

In 1993, the United States enacted federal legislation that guarantees employees the ability to take unpaid time off of work to tend to select personal situations. Known as the Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, all Florida business owners and managers should familiarize themselves with the basic tenets of this law and how it may apply to them.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor website, employees may take up to 12 or even 26 weeks away from their jobs under the FMLA for situations involving care of the following:

  • Parents or spouses with serious medical illnesses or conditions
  • Biological, adoptive or foster children in employees’ care
  • Newborns placed in the care of employees via birth, adoption or foster care

Employees on leave will not earn their salaries but will be able to keep all medical benefits intact during the leave periods. One period of leave per 12 months is allowed. When care is being provided to a person who is a member of the U.S. military, leave periods can be as long as 26 weeks. Such care can be given to biological relatives as well as to any person over whom an employee has legal guardianship or custody.

As noted by U.S. News & World Report, employment regulations do allow for business owners to request information that verifies the medical conditions prompting leave and employees are required to provide that when requested. Employees are also allowed to utilize other forms of leave options like sick days or vacation days not yet used before utilizing the family leave benefit.  Employers must provide the same or comparable jobs to workers upon their returns from family leave.

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