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The Family and Medical Leave Act: the basics

Most California residents work hard at their places of employment to earn a paycheck to support themselves and their families. What happens, however, if an individual is diagnosed with cancer and must begin treatment or a family decides to take in a foster child? While readily associated with pregnancy and the care of a newborn, The Family and Medical Leave Act provides employment protections to employees in various situations.

In order to benefit from FMLA, an employee and his or her employer must meet certain requirements. For example, an individual must have worked for at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to taking the allowed 12-week leave. Likewise an individual must work for a private company that employed 50 or more employees for 20 or more weeks during a 52-week period, a government agency or a public or private school.

Certain restrictions also apply as to when an eligible employee is allowed to take FMLA. These situations include the birth, adoption or foster care of a child; to attend to one's own or a loved one's serious health condition and to attend to situations that arise in the wake of a family member's military active duty status.

FMLA eligible employers may have their own policies with regard to certain procedures that must be followed when requesting or while on leave. Upon an employee's return to work, an employer is required to restore the employee to the same "or an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment." Additionally, under FMLA, an employer must continue to pay an employee's benefits, such as health insurance, while he or she is on leave.

Unfortunately, there are employers who fail to abide by federal employment laws like FMLA. Orange County residents who believe an employer violated provisions of FMLA may choose to contact an employment attorney.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, "Fact Sheet #28: The Family and Medical Leave Act," 2015

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