The Family Medical and Leave Act (FMLA) became law on February 5, 1993, in order to ensure a work-life balance to a changing workforce. Women of childbearing age and mothers of young children struggled with maintaining careers and families. Aging baby boomers were becoming concerned about disability leave, medical costs and insurance coverage for their health issues. FMLA regulations were designed to ensure qualified employees the time to take care of their personal lives while safeguarding their jobs.
A covered employer is an employer who meets FMLA criteria and is thereby required to grant FMLA leave to qualified employees who request it. According to the Department of Labor (DOL), covered employers are any public agency (including federal, state and local employers), schools (education agencies), and private sector employers who employ 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding year. This includes joint employers and successors of covered employers. Joint employers are defined as companies that lease or contract workers from an agency. A successor employer is a new employer who takes over the original employer’s property, including payroll.
FMLA regulations for intermittent leave state that in order to be eligible an employee must have worked for a covered employer for a total of 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours within the previous 12-month period. The employee must also work in a United States territory where at least 50 employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles. The 12 months of employment do not have to be consecutive, but employment before a break of seven years or more will not be counted unless it was in fulfillment of a National Guard or Reserve obligation, or there was a written agreement stating the employer’s intention to rehire after the break in service.
Intermittent leave is defined as taking leave in separate blocks of time but for the same qualified reason. An example would be taking a half day every Friday for three months to receive medical treatment for an ongoing illness. Employees taking intermittent FMLA leave for a planned medical treatment must first do everything in their power to schedule the treatment for a time that will not disrupt the employer’s operation. Intermittent leave is subject to a employer’s approval if it is requested for the birth, care, adoption or foster placement of a child.
Qualified Reasons for Leave
Reasons that are considered qualified per the FMLA regulations for intermittent leave include the birth and care of a newborn child of the employee; placement of a child for adoption or foster care with the employee; care for a spouse, son, daughter or parent with a serious health condition; medical leave due to the employee’s serious health condition; and military family leave due to qualifying circumstances arising from a spouse, son, daughter or parent’s active duty or call to active duty service, or to care for any covered service member with a serious injury or illness.