Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 Eligibility


The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) was passed to assist American employees in balancing family and work responsibilities. Under the FMLA, eligible employees are guaranteed 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for any of the following family or medical reasons:

  • birth of a child of the employee and to care for that child any time during the first 12 months of life);

  • adoption of a child by the employee (within 12 months of placement);

  • placement of a foster child with the employee (within 12 months of placement);

  • care by an employee for his or her spouse, son, daughter, or parent, if those relatives have a serious health condition; or

  • a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform his or her job.

To qualify for this FMLA leave, employees must meet a number of eligibility requirements. In addition, the FMLA excludes certain employers from coverage. This article summarizes the eligibility requirements of the FMLA.

Employer Coverage

The FMLA covers all employers engaged in commerce or in any industry or activity affecting commerce who employ 50 or more employees for each working day during each of 20 or more calendar workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year. The FMLA also covers all public agencies, regardless of the number of workers employed. Private and public elementary and secondary schools are also covered by the FMLA, regardless of the number of workers employed.

Employee Coverage

If an employee works for a covered employer, he or she must also meet several other requirements to be entitled to FMLA leave. To be eligible, employees must have:

  • Worked for the covered employer for at least one year (period of paid or unpaid leave count in calculation)

  • Worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period prior to the time of leave

  • Been employed at a worksite where 50 or more employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles of that worksite

Sufficient Family or Medical Reason

If an employee works for a covered employer and is otherwise eligible for FMLA leave, he or she must also articulate a sufficient condition or qualifying event, as listed above.

"Serious Health Conditions"

"Serious health conditions" sufficient to qualify an employee for FMLA leave include:

  • Inpatient medical care

  • Continuing treatment by a health care provider, including a period of incapacity for pregnancy or prenatal care or for a chronic medical condition

  • Periodic treatments like dialysis, radiation, chemotherapy, or physical therapy

Cosmetic treatments for acne do not qualify as serious health conditions, nor do minor illness, such as the flu, or routine dental or eye examinations.

Care for a Family Member

An eligible employee may take FMLA leave if he or she is ''needed to care for'' a family member. The employee can demonstrate this need by showing either necessary physical or psychological care. If a family member is unable to meet his or her basic physical needs, such as medical, hygienic, or safety needs, the employee is eligible for leave. The leave may also be used to transport family members to the doctor or to provide psychological comfort and support to family members with a serious illness.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

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