Areas of Law > Workers' Compensation

Family and Medical Leave Act Overview

This law was enacted in 1993.

Its original purpose was to balance demands of the workplace with family and dependent care issues, and to minimize any discriminatory impact against employees.

Leave is 12 weeks during a 12 month period.

To be eligible for leave, an employee must have worked for their employer at least 12 months, and have worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous twelve months, and work at a location where at least 50 employees are employed by that employer within 75 miles.

  • The 1250 hours includes only hours actually worked for the employer, so does not include paid leave time or other absences.

An employee cannot be denied FMLA leave if they are an eligible employee and have not exhausted the leave entitlement for one year.

Group health benefits (an employee's Blue Cross for example) must be maintained during the leave period.

The law does not guarantee paid time off, only unpaid leave. The employee may choose, or the employer may require, that an employee use accrued sick or vacation time, for some or all of the FMLA period.

  • The employer must notify the employee if the paid leave is to be counted against the FMLA before the leave begins.
  • A period of time away from work for a workers' compensation injury can also be counted against the FMLA, provided the absence is due to a qualifying serious illness or injury, and again, the employer notified the employee in writing that this will be counted as FMLA leave.
  • Maternity leave is also considered as FMLA leave; again, the employer must notify the employee in writing.

The employer determines the 12 month period that is covered: it can be a calendar year, fiscal year, or measured from the date the FMLA leave begins.

In all circumstances, it is the employer's responsibility to designate leave as FMLA leave. This designation is based on information provided by the employee.

FMLA leave may not may not be designated as FMLA leave after the leave is completed and after the employee has returned to work unless: the employer is awaiting medical verification of the existence of a serious health condition; employer was unaware that the leave was for an FMLA "reason" and gets verification later.

The employee need not provide medical records, but a medical certification from the doctor may be requested and required.

Representing the working men and women of Pennsylvania since 1981