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What is the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

Family Medical Leave Act was passed back in the ’90s, and it was primarily a method to help people adjust to important medical related occurrences in their life. One of the most prominent features is the birth of a son, maternity leave or paternity leave, and this helps people take some time off, and deal with a birth or adoption of a new child. It also helps deal with other serious medical conditions, and we’ll get to those medical conditions in a minute.

The one thing that I want to say about FMLA leave, on the front end, is that it is not a separate leave. It can be used in conjunction with other kinds of leaves. Basically it’s 12 weeks of leave that someone can take to deal with the birth, adoption of a child or a foster child, deal with a serious medical condition of their own, deal with a serious medical condition of their parent, or their spouse, or their son, or their daughter, or deal with an emergency situation with a member of the military. I’m going to leave that one off to the side because that’s very specialized, and we may do a show just on military benefits. Basically, this isn’t paid leave, it’s not leave that special in any way. What it really is, is protection of your job so that you can take this leave, the employee can take the leave and the job, and the benefits, and seniority will be just the same as if you have it hadn’t taken the leave. That’s the main benefit of the Family Medical Leave Act.

Each employee is, essentially, entitled to 12 weeks of that leave, if their employer is qualified and it’s covered, in one calendar year. You’ve had to have worked there one year before the leave is taken, and if you take the leave and come back they can’t have permanently replaced that particular employee. The company has to leave the job open for a returning employee.

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