Celebrating FMLA: But it Falls Short

It’s the 20th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993! The act allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of job protected leave for their own serious health condition or to care for the employee’s spouse, child or parent who has a serious health condition. In addition, the act covers leave when an employee is incapacitated due to pregnancy, for prenatal care and to care for an employee’s newborn child or placement for adoption or foster care. FMLA leave allows both the mother and father protected leave to bond with their new child. Each parent is entitled to take up to 12 weeks of leave unless they work for the same employer.

An employer is subject to the Act when they employ at least 50 employees within a 75 mile radius. An employee is eligible when they have been employed for at least one year and worked 1250 hours in the prior 12 months. FMLA not only protects the right to return to work to the original job or an equivalent position, but also protects health insurance under a group plan and other benefits on the same terms as if the employee had continued to work.

What a lot of people don’t know, is that effective January 16, 2009, amendments allowed for certain military leave to prepare for deployment or to attend post-deployment reintegration briefings. In addition, it extends the leave to 26 weeks during a one year period to care for a covered service member injured during active duty who is unable to perform their duties due to a medical condition.

The FMLA was a major step in the right direction to provide an important benefit to employees and their families. However, FMLA is unpaid leave and 9to5 will continue to advocate for paid leave for all, both full- time and part-time workers. Won’t you join us?

By Michele Bonnet, 9to5 California member and board director

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