FMLA After 20 Years

Yes, it's been that long since Congress passed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Is your business subject to it?

If you meet a 50-employee test, you are a "covered employer" subject to the federal FMLA rules. This means having 50 or more employees each working day during at least 20 calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year.

Being subject to the FMLA rules means that eligible employees (e.g., those who worked at least one year at your company) are entitled to:

  • 12 workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for an employee to care for his or her newborn or a spouse or child with a serious health issue.
  • 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period to tend to a personal health issue or a qualifying "exigency" to care for a spouse, child, or parent as is considered a "covered active duty"
  • 26 workweeks of leave in a 12-month period to care for a spouse, child, parent, or next of kin who is a service member with a serious injury or illness

Obligations as a covered employer

Once you determine you are a covered employer, then you must take certain actions:

  • Display a poster explaining the provisions of the FMLA and telling employees how to file a complaint of FMLA violations with the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • Provide notice of an employee's eligibility and rights and responsibilities under the FMLA.
  • Respond to an employee's request. When an employee requests FMLA leave, you must notify the employee of his or her eligibility to take FMLA leave within five business days, absent extenuating circumstances. The eligibility notice must state whether the employee is eligible for FMLA leave, and, if not eligible, must state at least one reason why the employee is not eligible.
  • Keep records. You must record and retain for at least three years all information pertaining to your FMLA obligations, including general records about payroll and employees who have taken leave.

State laws to know about

Some states have their own (stricter) FMLA rules. Check your state's laws here.


Find more details about federal rules in the Department of Labor's Employment Law Guide.

For more information about state-level rules, contact your state labor department.


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