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Frequently Asked Questions About the Family and Medical Leave Act

January 25, 2024 Family and Medical Leave Act Claims

Know Your Rights Under the Law

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was passed in 1993 to give qualifying workers leave to care for a family member with a medical condition or handle their own illness or injury. The leave is unpaid, but job-protected—meaning the employer has to allow the employee back under the same or equivalent job title and conditions.  

Here are answers to our most frequently asked questions about this law.

How Much Leave Does the FMLA Provide?

Under the FMLA, employees are allowed to take as much as 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for family and medical reasons. These reasons include:

  • The birth of a child, including caring for a newborn in its first year after birth.
  • Taking on an adopted or foster child, or caring for the child within one year of placement.
  • Caring for a spouse, child or parent with a serious illness.
  • Dealing with your own serious health condition, if that condition renders you unable to work.
  • Handling qualifying exigencies that result from having a spouse, child or parent on active military duty.

Employees also get 26 weeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a serious illness or injury under military caregiver leave.

Who Is Eligible for FMLA Leave?

There are limitations on the employees who are covered under FMLA law. Those eligible for FMLA leave must have worked for their current employer for at least 12 months, accumulated a minimum of 1,250 hours over that period, and work at a location where the company employs at least 50 employees within 75 miles. 

What Is a Qualifying Medical Reason?

The Family and Medical Leave Act gives employees the right to take time off to handle a serious medical condition—either a family member’s or their own. But what counts as “serious” under the law?

Generally, a health condition is considered serious enough to qualify if it leaves the person unable to work, go to school or perform regular activities of daily living. This includes both physical and mental health conditions that require continuing treatment or inpatient care. 

The health condition can either be acute—such as a serious bout of the flu—or chronic and ongoing. Recovery time from surgery and other treatments also qualifies for FMLA leave, as does pregnancy.

How Many Days in a Row Can I Take Under the FMLA?

The FMLA allows employees to take leave in a variety of ways depending on their needs. You may take your leave intermittently, all at once in a large block of time, or by simply reducing your hours on a daily or weekly basis.

In that way, you can handle a number of different situations with FMLA leave. For instance, an employee with a chronic condition can take a half-day every Friday or a day off every other week to get ongoing treatment; and an employee with a serious injury or illness can take several weeks off at once to recover.

What Are My Employer’s Obligations Under the FMLA?

Under the FMLA, your employer has some legal obligations to its qualifying employees:

  • It must allow you to take time off for a qualifying reason under the FMLA.
  • It must allow you to continue on your health insurance coverage with no changes during your leave.
  • You must be allowed to return to the job you left, or an equivalent job with the same pay, benefits, shift, location, and other working conditions.
  • Your employer is not allowed to block you from taking FMLA leave you’re eligible for, or threaten to retaliate against you for taking leave.
  • Your employer must notify you in writing once you’re determined to be eligible for FMLA leave, including providing information about your rights under the FMLA and how much of your requested leave is FMLA-protected.

Are You Being Refused FMLA Leave? You Should Speak to a Pennsylvania Employment Attorney 

If you are being refused FMLA leave for a health condition or another qualifying reason, your employer may be in violation of the law. We have helped many clients in similar circumstances and we can help you, too.

Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at for a free, confidential consultation today.

The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.