February 17, 2016    |    By

If you are a business owner, you’ve probably heard of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). It’s important that you understand how the FMLA rules impacts your business or if it does at all. This is a federal law that applies in all states. Yet, most states also have some version of this at the state level as well. California has the California Family Rights Act. They are very similar but we will look at the Family Medical Leave Act in this blog.

What is the FMLA?

The Family Medical Leave Act protects the employees’ job should they have to take an extended leave from work for certain personal or family health reasons. Each eligible employee is allowed up to 12 weeks per year. This is unpaid leave.

Who is Eligible For The FMLA?

  • An employee who has worked at your business for 12 months. However, those 12 months do not have to be in a row.
  • An employee must work at least 1250 hours in the 12 months before they take the leave. That’s an average of 24hrs per week in a year.

What Businesses does the FMLA Apply to?

  • Private sector businesses who have 50+ employees working within a 75 mile radius of each other.

What Conditions can my employee use FMLA for?

An employee can use the FMLA to care for their spouse, child or parent who has a serious health condition or is unable to work because of their own personal health condition.

Common reasons someone uses the FMLA are:

  • Conditions requiring overnight stay at a hospital or medical facility
  • Unable to attend work for 3 consecutive days or more.
  • Chronic conditions
  • Pregnancy including prenatal appointments, incapacity due to morning sickness or required bed rest.

Military Family Leave

Employees are allowed up to 26 weeks in a 12-month period to take care a military service member with a serious injury or illness.


One last thing to remember is to check your employee handbook and what you tell your employees. While you may not be legally required to give your employees FMLA, if you tell them that they can take extended time off in the handbook or in conversation, this could land you in hot water if their job is not available when they come back. Make sure you don’t promise something you can’t deliver on.

Are you growing your business and hiring employees? Find out all you need to know in our Free Employer’s Guide To Hiring Your First Employee.

Make a great first impression at your next job interview.

This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created between the author and reader of this blog post, and its content should not be relied upon as legal advice. Readers are urged to consult legal counsel when seeking legal advice.