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An Overview of the Family Medical Leave Act – The Basics

There are numerous laws on the books applying to various aspects of employer and their employees. The Family Medical Leave Act is one such law that employers need to be well aware of since failure to abide by the Family Medical Leave Act could results in fines or lawsuits. Essentially the Family Medical Leave Act is designed to provide certain employees with the ability to take unpaid leaves of absence under certain qualifying circumstances without fear of losing their job or suffering any repercussions from their employers. It's important to understand the Family Medical Leave Act and what it says in order to stay in full compliance of it.

First, it's worth understanding just which employers the Family Medical Leave Act applies to. Under the guidelines of the Family Medical Leave Act any employer with over fifty employees working within seventy five miles of the workplace must abide by the rules of the Family Medical Leave Act. Also, fifty or more of those employees must have worked at least twenty full work weeks during the previous year. If your business falls under these basic guidelines then you must obey the rules and restrictions of the Family Medical Leave Act. Public agencies must abide by the Family Medical Leave Act regardless of its total number of employees.

So what exactly does the Family Medical Leave Act require that you do? Not much, actually. The rules of the Family Medical Leave Act focus more on what you are not allowed to do rather than you must do. Essentially, any qualifying employee is allowed to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave during any year. Under Family Medical Leave Act law, you are not allowed to terminate the employment of the employee in question. You also cannot reduce their pay, demote their position, cancel their employee benefits, or undertake any similar actions under the laws set forth by the Family Medical Leave Act.

For an employee to qualify for leave under the Family Medical Leave Act they must be taking their twelve weeks of leave for the birth or adoption of a child. They also may take their leave in order to care for an immediate family member who is seriously ill and requires their assistance with no penalties, otherwise the employer will be breaking the rules of the Family Medical Leave Act. Under the rules of the Family Medical Leave Act the family member could be a spouse, child, stepchild, or biological parent. If these conditions are met then the Family Medical Leave Act requires that the employee be granted their leave of absence.

Other factors play into the Family Medical Leave Act as well. Under Family Medical Leave Act law, for example, the employee must provide notice thirty days prior to the leave if the event is foreseeable. The twelve weeks can be taken at once or intermittently throughout the twelve month period, but beyond twelve weeks of leave is not covered by the Family Medical Leave Act laws. And any employer who falls under the jurisdiction of the Family Medical Leave Act must post a notice that explains the basics of the law.


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