The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that allows qualified employees to take an absence from work in order to care for a sick or injured immediate family member or for the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child into the family. FMLA prevents employers from firing or penalizing employees who take this leave. Since Texas does not have a FMLA-style state law, federal FMLA laws apply to Texas employers and protect employees working in Texas.
FMLA applies to any employer, public or private, with more than 50 employees on staff. FMLA also applies to all government agencies and schools, whether private or public, regardless of the number of employees on staff. Under FMLA, employers cannot punish, retaliate or otherwise penalize an employee who takes leave to care for their family. When the employee returns to work, the employer must have the employee's job or a similar job available for her.
For an employee to be eligible under FMLA, he must have worked for the employer for at least one year and worked no less than 1250 hours in the last year. Additionally, the absence from work must be to care for an immediate family member who has a serious medical condition, for the birth, adoption of placements of a foster child into a family or for any other urgent or emergent situation involving the family.
Employers subject to FMLA provisions must give qualified employees no less than 12 weeks of paid or unpaid leave per year to take care of family needs. This period is extended to a minimum of 26 weeks if the employee is carrying for a family member who is recovering from a serious illness or injury sustained while on active military duty. Employees can take the leave all at once or intermittently as needed.
- Family portrait of young family on picnic image by YURY MARYUNIN from Fotolia.com