Family and Medical Leave Act for Non-Federal Employees
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides important protections for eligible workers. It allows them to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period to care for a spouse with a serious medical condition, or 26 weeks to care for an eligible servicemember spouse with a serious injury or illness. It also allows an employee to take job-protected leave for the birth or adoption of a child or to care for a child who has a serious health condition, regardless of whether the child is biologically related to the employee. At the end of the FMLA leave, workers are entitled to resume their same or an equivalent job.
This guidance addresses the rights that non-federal employees and their same-sex spouses should expect to receive under the FLMA now that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has been struck down. Rules for federal employees differ slightly. See the guidance section on Federal Employees for information specific to employees of the federal government. You may also have additional rights under state law. For more information, consult with a lawyer who specializes in employment law about rights you may have in your state.
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Any employee who has worked for a covered employer at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period before the start of the leave is eligible for FMLA leave, so long as the employee has worked for a covered employer for at least a year.
The FMLA covers:
- Public employers, including state, local or federal government, or a public school. See the guidance for Federal Employees for more information specific to FMLA coverage for federal civilian employees.
- Private sector employers with 50 or more employees working for at least 20 workweeks (within a 75-mile radius of ther worksite, if the employer has more than one worksite) in the current or preceding calendar year.
The FMLA allows eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid leave to care for a spouse who has a serious health condition. There are additional and sometimes expanded leave rights for spouses of current and former servicemembers.
If you want to use FMLA leave, you must give 30 days advance notice to your employer if possible. Where that’s not possible, you must let your employer know as soon as you can. If you need to miss work under FMLA leave without advance notice, you need to follow the usual notification procedures for absences from work. You also will need to give enough information to your employer for your employer to decide whether the FMLA applies to your situation. If you encounter problems, you can contact the Wage and Hour Division at the Department of Labor, or an attorney who specializes in employment law.
To find the Wage and Hour Division office nearest you, go to: http://www.dol.gov/whd/america2.htm.
- If you live in a state that respects your marriage: You will be considered married for FMLA purposes, and will be entitled to take FMLA leave to care for a sick spouse.
- If you live in a state that does not respect your marriage: Both the Department of Labor and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management have proposed changes to the regulations governing FMLA eligibility that would allow same-sex marriage couples in any state to access FMLA leave, as long as their marriage was legally entered into in the state where it was celebrated. We hope that these changes will be implemented by the end of this year. If you encounter problems, contact one of the legal organizations listed below.
See Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, Family and Medical Leave Act: http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/#.UJRK2Ib-ocs.
This series of fact sheets produced together by:
After DOMA Issue Areas
- Benefits and Protections for Civilian Federal Employees and their Spouses
- The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
- Family and Medical Leave Act for Non-Federal Employees
- Federal Taxes
- Medicare Spousal Protections
- Military Spousal Benefits
- Private Employment Issues and Benefits
- Social Security Spousal and Family Protections
- Supplemental Security Income for Aged, Blind, and Disabled (SSI)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Veteran's Spousal Benefits