New York Employment Law Blog

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

An Overview of Your Rights Under the Family Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that allows you to take 12 weeks of unpaid time from work in certain serious health situations that affect you or your family. The FMLA allows you to leave your job for a period to address your own health problems or health problems related to your parent, child, or spouse without worrying about whether you will have a job to come back to after the crisis is over. You can take leave all at once, or you can take it intermittently over a period of time.

You must meet certain requirements to use FMLA leave, and it is only available in certain situations. If you fulfill the conditions, your employer must provide you with this benefit.  

Who Qualifies for FMLA Leave?

Only certain employers must allow FMLA benefits. Generally, as long as the employer has more than 50 employees, then it will be covered by the federal law. The 50 employees must also be within 75 miles of your worksite to qualify as well. However, employers that have less than 50 employees in New York are still covered by the state’s version of FMLA. In addition, government agencies and elementary and secondary schools are covered by the FMLA, regardless of how many employees they have.

Even if your employer is covered, not every individual will qualify for FMLA. You must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months to be eligible. The 12 months do not have to be in a row, but if your break lasted more than seven years, you could not count the period of prior employment.

You must have also worked for the employer for at least 1250 hours in the 12 months before you take your leave. That is roughly 24 hours per week over the past year. That means that even part-time employees may qualify to use FMLA leave.

Certain professions, such as airline crew members, may have special requirements in addition to those outlined above. An experienced employment law attorney will be able to tell you whether your profession has any additional criteria that you must meet.

Circumstances that Qualify for FMLA Leave

Only certain health-related conditions will qualify to use FMLA leave. The health problem must be considered “serious” for FMLA to “kick in.” Serious conditions often have the following attributes:

  • Conditions that require at least an overnight stay in a hospital or other medical facility
  • Incapacitation for more than three days in a row (unable to go to school, work, etc.) for either you or your loved one
  • Chronic conditions that require occasional periods of incapacitation
  • Pregnancy

Military-related leave is also often available. Military deployment leave will almost always qualify for FMLA. You can also take up to 26 weeks of FMLA leave in one 12-month period to help care for a military family member who has a serious injury or illness as well.

The State of New York also provides more extensive coverage for workers. You can find out more by speaking to a member of our team. Call 516-262-5028 today.


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