What is FMLA and What are the FMLA Laws by State?

September 26, 2023

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides eligible employees with job-protected leave for specific family and medical reasons. This article aims to demystify FMLA by addressing questions such as who files FMLA paperwork, rules regarding working while on FMLA, qualifying conditions, employer denial possibilities, and intermittent leave.

Who can complete FMLA paperwork?

Under the FMLA, it is the responsibility of the eligible employee to initiate the process by notifying their employer of their need for FMLA leave. This typically involves completing the necessary paperwork provided by the employer, which includes details about the employee’s medical condition or qualifying event. The employer will then review and process the paperwork accordingly.

Can you work while on FMLA?

During FMLA leave, employees generally cannot work; however, there are some exceptions. In certain circumstances, known as intermittent leave or reduced schedule leave, employees may work on a reduced schedule whilst still being protected under FMLA. Intermittent leave allows employees to take leave in separate blocks of time for medical appointments, treatments, or other qualifying conditions covered by FMLA.

Qualifying Conditions under FMLA:

FMLA provides job-protected leave for specific family and medical reasons. Employees are eligible for FMLA if they have worked for at least 12 months for an employer who meets certain size requirements. A qualifying condition can include an employee’s own serious health condition, the birth or adoption of a child, caring for a seriously ill family member (spouse, child, or parent), or military family leave related to deployment or injury.

Can Employers Deny FMLA?

Employers cannot deny an employee’s rights to FMLA if they meet the eligibility criteria and have provided proper notice and certification. However, not all employers are covered by FMLA. Private-sector employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required to provide FMLA leave. Additionally, employees who have not met the necessary eligibility requirements or have exhausted their allotted FMLA leave may be denied additional leave under FMLA.

What is Intermittent FMLA?

The FMLA allows eligible employees to take intermittent leave, which means they can take time off in separate blocks of time rather than one continuous period. This flexibility is particularly useful for medical conditions that require ongoing treatments, physical therapy, or check-ups. For example, an employee undergoing chemotherapy may need to take time off periodically for treatments and recovery. Intermittent FMLA allows the employee to utilize their job-protected leave when needed.

Understanding the basics of FMLA is essential for both employers and employees. It ensures that employees facing qualifying situations receive job protection and can attend to their own health needs or those of their families without fear of losing their positions. While filing FMLA paperwork rests with the employee, employers must maintain compliance with FMLA regulations and cannot deny eligible employees their rights under this federal law. Intermittent FMLA provides added flexibility for employees whose medical conditions necessitate intermittent leaves throughout a specified period.

Remember, FMLA exists to support employees during critical life events, ensure job security, and enable individuals to balance their work and personal lives effectively. Employers should familiarize themselves with the provisions of FMLA to provide appropriate support and guidance to their workforce, while employees should be aware of their rights and responsibilities when applying for FMLA leave.

FMLA Laws by State:

Federal Yes The FMLA applies to all employers that employ 50 employees within a 75-mile radius for at least 20 weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. To qualify, employees must have completed 12 months of service with the employer and at least 1,250 hours, or 25 hours a week, during the preceding 12 months. Qualified employees are allowed up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a 12-month period for the birth, adoption, or illness of a child, parent, spouse, or for the employee’s own illness.
Alabama No N/A
Alaska No N/A
Arizona No N/A
Arkansas No N/A
California Yes 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for the birth, adoption, or illness of child, parent, spouse, or employee. The California paid family leave (PFL) law provides workers with a maximum of six weeks (eight weeks, beginning 7-1-20) of partial pay each year while taking time off from work to bond with a newborn baby, or newly adopted or foster child, or to care for a seriously ill parent, child, spouse, or registered domestic partner. Paid family leave includes time off to care for a seriously ill grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or parent-in-law. Effective 1-1-21, the paid family leave program is expanded to include time off for an employee’s participation in covered active duty, or the call to covered active duty of an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent in the armed forces.
Colorado No N/A
Connecticut Yes Employees in private sector may take up to 16 weeks in 24 months of unpaid leave for the birth, adoption, or illness of their child, parent, or spouse, or to take care of their own illness. State employees are also entitled to unpaid leave but the rules are different. Effective Jan. 1, 2022, eligible employees are entitled to 12 weeks of paid leave in a 12-month period under the Connecticut Family Medial Leave Act (CFMLA), with two additional weeks available to eligible employees who experience a pregnancy-related serious health condition that results in incapacitation. Employees are eligible for leave after working for an employer for three months, with no minimum requirement for hours worked. The leave is funded by employee payroll contributions. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, an employee payroll tax of up to 0.5% is implemented. Employers are responsible for deducting and withholding the tax.
Disctrict of Columbia Yes Employees with a year of employment and at least 1,000 hours of service with an employer of 20 or more may take up to 16 weeks in 24 months for birth, adoption, or illness of family member or self.
Delaware Yes N/A
Florida No N/A
Georgia No N/A
Hawaii Yes 4 weeks in 12 months for birth, adoption, or serious illness of child, parent, or spouse (unpaid unless employee elects to substitute paid sick, vacation, personal, or family leave).
Idaho Yes Up to 8 weeks of unpaid leave for pregnancy, birth, or related medical conditions.
Illinois No N/A
Indiana No N/A
Iowa No N/A
Kansas No N/A
Kentucky Yes 6 weeks of leave for adoption of a child under 7
Louisiana Yes Up to 4 months for pregnancy, birth and related medical conditions when employed with an employer with 26 or more employees.
Maine Yes Up to 8 weeks of leave for the birth or adoption of a child under age 3 (unpaid unless employer allows use of accrued sick leave). Both men and women are entitled to parental leave. Beginning in 2021, the Massachusetts paid family and medical leave program requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave in a benefit year (defined as the 52-consecutive week period beginning on the Sunday preceding the first day the protected leave begins) for eligible employees to care for a new baby or sick family member, and up to 20 weeks of paid leave for the employee’s own medical needs. In addition, a covered individual taking family leave in order to care for a covered servicemember is eligible for up to 26 weeks of paid family leave in a benefit year. To be eligible for paid family and medical leave, an employee must meet the financial eligibility requirements for receiving unemployment compensation under Massachusetts law.
Maryland Yes An employer that provides leave with pay to employees upon the birth of a child must provide the same paid leave upon the adoption of a child. Effective Oct. 1, 2024, employers with 15 or more employees must provide 12 weeks of paid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program for the birth or adoption of a child, to care for a sick family member, to recover from a serious health condition, to care for a service member, or due to the deployment of a service member in the employee’s family.
Massachusetts Yes An employee with 1 year of service with a private employer with 15 or more at one site may take 10 weeks’ leave in 24 months for birth, adoption or serious health condition of a child, domestic partner, a domestic partner’s child, parent, spouse, sibling, grandparent, or employee (unpaid unless employer provides paid leave). Workers employed by the same school administrative unit for at least 12 consecutive months may take 10 weeks’ leave, provided they have worked at least 1,250 hours in the previous 12 month period.
Michigan No N/A
Minnesota Yes Up to 6 weeks of unpaid leave for birth or adoption.
Mississippi No N/A
Missouri No N/A
Montana Yes Reasonable leave of absence for pregnancy.
Nebraska No N/A
Nevada No N/A
New Hampshire No N/A
New Jersey Yes Leave of absence must be provided to female employees for pregnancy, birth, or related medical conditions if have 6 or more employees. Effective 7/1/21, a new voluntary paid leave program is in effect, and coverage must be provided by 1/1/23.
New Mexico Yes Paid and unpaid family leave.
New York No N/A
North Carolina No N/A
North Dakota No N/A
Ohio No N/A
Oklahoma No N/A
Oregon Yes Beginning 9-3-23, an employee may qualify for up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical insurance benefits per benefit year for family, medical, or safe leave. An employee may take up to 4 additional weeks of unpaid leave for a total of 16 weeks of leave. Employees may take an additional two weeks of paid leave for limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition that may include and but is not limited to lactation. Paid leave must be taken concurrently with any unpaid leave under the Oregon Family Leave Act or the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Employer and employee contributions toward the program begin 1-1-23. Employers with fewer than 25 employees are not required to pay the employer contribution. 12 weeks within 12 months of unpaid leave for birth, adoption, foster child placement, serious health condition of family member or the employee, or disability due to pregnancy or child birth. Eff. 1-1-14, up to 2 weeks of unpaid leave for the death of a family member. Eff. 1-1-20, absences related to the donation of a body part, organ, or tissue.
Pennsylvania No N/A
Rhode Island Yes 13 weeks in 24 months for birth, adoption of a child under 16, or illness of child, parent, spouse or employee.
South Carolina No N/A
South Dakota No N/A
Tennessee Yes Employers with 100 or more full-time employees at one site must provide up to four months’ leave for pregnancy, child birth, and adoption (unpaid unless employer allows use of accrued paid sick leave).
Texas No Eff. 9-1-2021, a state employee family leave pool is established to provide&#-160;eligible state employees more flexibility in bonding with and caring for children during a child’s first year following birth, adoption, or foster placement and in caring for a seriously ill family member or the employee. The pool permits a state employee to voluntarily transfer sick or vacation leave to a family leave pool and allows employees to apply for leave time under the family leave pool. Employees may not withdraw more than the lesser of 1/3 of the total time in the pool or 90 days [Tex. Gov’t. Code Ann. § 661.021].
Utah No N/A
Vermont No, but eff. 7-1-19, state employees may receive up to 8 weeks of paid parental leave for the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child. N/A
Virginia Yes Certain employers must provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12 month period for: (1) the serious illness of the employee or of the employee’s child, stepchild, foster child, civil partner, parent, spouse or parent of the employee’s spouse; and (2) the employee’s pregnancy, and following the birth of an employee’s child, or adoption within a year following the initial placement of a child 16 years of age or younger with the employee. Six weeks may be paid leave if the employee opts to use accrued paid leave. Beginning 7-1-2023, the state has a voluntary paid FMLA program.
Washington Yes Up to 12 weeks of unpaid family leave for a bona fide medical reason, or to care for a family member, newborn child, or adopted or foster child. (eff. 1-1-20, up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, multiple sick leaves cannot total more than 16 weeks in a year).
West Virginia Yes Employers with 50 or more employees must provide up to 6 weeks in 12 months to covered employees for birth or adoption of child; employers with 50 or more employees must provide up to 2 weeks in 12 months to covered employees to care for a child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, or parent of a domestic partner with a serious health condition.
Wisconsin No N/A
Wyoming No N/A

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