The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) became law in 1993, making it possible for employees to take up to twelve weeks off of work in the event of their own illness, or that of a family member, without facing dismissal.
In order to qualify for FMLA, an individual must work for a qualifying United States company for at least one year. He also must have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours within a twelve-month period to qualify.
An employee qualifies for twelve weeks unpaid time off under FMLA if she has a major medical condition that makes it impossible to work. She also may take twelve weeks off if she needs to take care of an immediate family member with a serious health problem. Both mothers and fathers can take time off under the Family Medical Leave Act during and after the birth of their own child.
The twelve weeks allotted to a qualified employee under FMLA need not be taken at one time. The employee can break them up into smaller periods of time off, provided that the total time does not exceed twelve weeks.