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What are my rights under the Family Medical Leave Act?

The Family Medical Leave Act, or the FMLA, went into effect more than two decades ago and allows employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off in a 12-month period to attend to qualifying personal matters without the threat of losing their jobs.

Florida employees often have questions about the FMLA, many of which we will address in this post.

1. Who does the FMLA apply to?

In the state of Florida, all employers with 50 employees or more (for at least 20 weeks in the current or previous year) must follow the FMLA.

In order for employees to be covered by the FMLA, they must:

  • have worked for the employer for at least a year;
  • have worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous year; and
  • work at a location that has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.

2. When can I take FMLA leave?

The most common reason people take FMLA leave is to bond with a new child after giving birth, adopting or becoming a foster parent. However, there are many other situations that qualify for FMLA leave, including:

  • taking care of a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition;
  • recovering from a serious health condition; and
  • attending to an exigency relating to a spouse, child or parent who is an active duty member of the military.

3. How much leave is available under the FMLA?

Qualifying employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period. A total of 26 weeks of leave is available to those caring for active duty members of the military who are suffering from a serious illness or injury.

4. Will my group health insurance continue while I am on leave?

In cases where an employee is provided group health insurance, the insurance coverage can continue while the employee is on leave on the same terms that exist while the employee is working.

5. Does the state of Florida offer any added protections for employees?

Many states, including Florida, offer added protections for employees in addition to those provided by the federal FMLA. Florida offers employees the right to take FMLA leave to deal with domestic violence issues. The domestic abuse victim must be the employee or a member or the employee's family or household.

Even though the FMLA has been around for many years, some employers are still unfamiliar with its requirements or choose to violate employees' rights under the law.

In any case, people who are confused about their rights under the FMLA or think that their rights may have been violated should contact an experience attorney in their area for advice and guidance.

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