Since its inception, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has afforded countless employees the opportunity to care for themselves or a family member with a serious health issue without having to fear that they will lose their job for doing so. Whether you are the one facing a health problem, or you simply wish to take time off to help a parent, child or spouse who needs additional care and attention, the FMLA may provide you with the unpaid leave you need while keeping your job safe for when you are able to return.
FMLA Eligibility Criteria
While it has certainly provided welcome assistance to many American workers, the protections of the FMLA do not apply to everyone. Therefore, if you are anticipating a need for leave of this type, it is important for you to determine whether or not you are, in fact, eligible under the federal law. The key to eligibility is to work for a “covered” employer, which could include:
A private employer with no less than 50 employees
A governmental agency (state, local and federal included), regardless of size
An elementary or secondary school (no matter the number of employees)
It is worth noting that if you work for a private employer with fewer than 50 employees, you will not be eligible for protection under the FMLA, but you may be covered by state medical and family leave laws. Therefore, it pays to consult with a knowledgeable employment attorney who can help determine eligibility issues.
Length of Employment as Determining Factor
Just because your employer is considered “covered” for purposes of the FMLA, you are not automatically eligible for the law’s protections. You must also meet criteria concerning the amount of time for which you have worked for your current employer. It is necessary for you to have worked for your employer for no less than 12 months. Furthermore, you will need to show that you worked for that particular employer for at least 1250 hours during the 12 months prior to your anticipated leave.
Additional Criteria for FMLA Eligibility
Finally, in order to receive the benefits and protections of the FMLA, you must be employed at a location in which your employer has no less than 50 employees working within 75 miles of your own worksite. If your employer has employees dispersed across far-flung locations, and there simply are not 50 employees working within 75 miles of where you work, FMLA leave does not have to be granted to you.
Understanding Your Rights Under the FMLA
If you have questions about your eligibility for protection under the FMLA or feel you have been wrongly denied any of the law’s benefits, an attorney at Richard Celler Legal, P.A. stands ready to help. Contact us today for a no-cost initial consultation.