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Q&A: Can you explain when an employee can use FMLA?

Question:

Can you explain when an employee can use FMLA?

Answer from Megan, PHR, JD:

To take FMLA to leave, an employee must work for a covered employer, be an eligible employee, and be using the leave for a covered reason.

An employer is a covered employer if they have 50 or more employees.

An employee is an eligible employee if they have worked for the employer for at least 12 months in the last seven years, worked at least 1,250 hours for the employer during the 12-month period immediately before the leave, and work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.

The following are covered reasons for leave under FMLA:

  • The birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
  • The placement of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for that child within one year of placement;
  • To care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
  • A serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of their job;
  • Any qualifying exigency because the employee’s spouse, child, or parent is a military member on active duty.

Under FMLA, a covered employer could conceivably have no eligible employees. Similarly, an employee who works for a covered employer and has a serious health condition could not be an eligible employee because, for example, they don’t work at a worksite with 50 or more employees within 75 miles.

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Megan, JD

Megan graduated from the University of Maryland, magna cum laude, and from Lewis and Clark Law School, cum laude. She has extensive work experience in a variety of industries, which she draws on to help clients with their HR questions.

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