Family and Medical Leave

FMLA and Family Care Act

Unions fought hard for the passage of the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in the 1990s.

Under FMLA your rights include:

  • The right to take up to 12 weeks of medical leave each year on a consecutive or intermittent basis.
  • The right to take up to 12 weeks of family leave each year to care for a seriously ill child, parent, or spouse.
  • The right to a part-time work schedule when necessitated by medical problems or to care for an ill family member.
  • The right to decline a light-duty job for the first 12 weeks of an injury or illness.  Most importantly, the FMLA prohibits employers from penalizing employees who miss work for qualified reasons. FMLA absences cannot be used as points under an attendance policy, as a reason for denying a pay increase or promotion, or in any other negative manner.
  • The right to return to your job after FMLA leave.

You have these rights if you meet all the following criteria:

  • Work for a private employer (including non-profit organizations) which has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius, or work for a public employer including federal, state, city, and local agencies and schools.
  • Have worked for this employer for at least 12 months or 52 weeks (does not have to be consecutive).
  • Have worked at least 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months.

You may take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid FMLA leave in each 12-month period for the following reasons:

  • Medical leave - A serious health condition that makes you unable to perform your job.
  • Family leave - Need to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, or parent.
  • Childbirth and Newborn Care leave - Childbirth or need to care for a newborn child up to age one.
  • Adoption and Foster Placement leave - Placement of a child with you for adoption or foster care.

So the next time you need to call in to care for a sick kid or a family member with a serious health condition, remember this law. Ask your Union Rep for details if you have questions.