FMLA 101: Breaking Down the Family and Medical Leave Act

Page with FMLA family medical leave act on a table.

Family and Medical Leave Act is an important HR-related topic that all employers should fully understand. Over time, many of your employees will have to care for elderly relatives due to poor health and/or advanced age. Caring for an elder requires significant time. As a result, your employees may need a period of leave from time to time in order to care for their loved one’s medical or other needs.

What is the Family and Medical Leave Act?

The Act was largely designed with the purpose of giving your employees the time they need to care for their own health or for the health of relatives under their supervision. Most people associate FMLA with the birth of a new born, but it is also for those caring for senior parents or relatives that require specialized care. It’s in your best interest as an employer to learn about FMLA and all of its details.

What is the Ultimate Purpose of this Act?

The ultimate purpose of the Family and Medical Leave Act can be broken down into a few simple statements. Briefly put, the Act has been specially designed with the purpose of giving your employees the help they need to successfully balance the responsibilities that they have incurred at their place of work with the additional obligations they owe to their family members, both children and their aged parents.

The best way you can help as an employer is to give your employees a reasonable amount of leave time in order to help them attend to their particular family issues. This leave is unpaid. However, the Act does guarantee that the job the employee holds will be there for them at the end of their leave, which gives them the protection they need to take care of the emergency without worrying about having to find a new job after the issue has been attended to. You want your employees to feel secure.

What are the Rules Associated with the FMLA?

All employers should note that there are certain rules and regulations associated with FMLA that you would do well to have documented. The Act guarantees the right of an employer to take a stipulated period of unpaid leave in order to provide medical or other types of care for an immediate family member. This will generally mean a spouse, child, or parent. The Act also gives your employee time for a leave of medical absence when they are unable to continue working due to a serious health condition.

Employees at your company will be eligible for a period of leave if they have worked for you for at least 12 months or at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months. Also, they must work at a specific location where your company employs 50 or more employees who live within 75 miles of the work location.

What Benefits Do Employees Receive Under FMLA?

FMLA provides several key benefits for your employees. It provides a stipulated period of leave that is unpaid but comes with full job protection. This leave period may extend to 12 weeks. All of the group health benefits that the employee in question has earned will be maintained in-full during the entire period of their absence. Lastly, FMLA gives employees much needed space and time for finding long-term solutions for their issues. Peace of mind, clarity, and closure are key benefits that can come from FMLA leave.

Need More Information?

Though this article has laid out the basics of FMLA, you may still be unsure about some particular details about the Act. Your knowledge gap may pertain to how you apply FMLA to actual situations with your employees. If you have any further questions about the Family and Medical Leave Act and how it relates to senior parents and caregiving, please contact us for more information.