The FMLA provides covered employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year.  In passing the FMLA in 1993, the U.S. Congress expressed a public policy preference to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons.  Despite this federal law favoring family and medical leave from work, some employers continue to penalize employees for prioritizing family over work.

An employer is required to maintain the employee's benefits, such as group health benefits, during the leave.  Leave under the FMLA is typically unpaid (unless the employer voluntarily agrees to paid leave), although employees are allowed to--or may be required to--first use up any paid sick days and/or personal days provided by the employer's policy.

The FMLA applies to public agencies, public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with at least 50 employees.  Eligible employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for any of the following reasons:

  • birth and care of the newborn child of an employee (including doctor visits and pregnancy complications prior to the birth); 
  • placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care;
  • caring for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or
  • medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition; or
  • qualifying exigencies where the employee's spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on active duty or call to active status as a member of the National Guard or Reserves in support of a contingency operation.

An employee is eligible for FMLA leave if he or she has worked for the employer at least 12 months, at least 1250 hours over the past 12 months, and at a location where the company employs at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.

Years of Experience

Mr. McKinney has been has been practicing employment law since 1996, is Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and represents employees who have have had leave unlawfully denied or have been retaliated against for seeking or taking leave.  If you need to speak with an attorney, contact us immediately.