Family and Medical Leave Act

What is the Family and Medical Leave Act?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that allows employees to take unpaid annual leave to care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition. FMLA also allows workers to take leave for personal health conditions or to care for newly born or adopted children.



*NEW!*

Learn more about how this new rule may affect your family. To read the Department of Labor's announcement on the Final Rule, click here.


FMLA FAQ

What employers are covered under the FMLA?

FMLA applies to all public employers and private employers who employ 50 or more workers.

How much leave can I take under FMLA?

FMLA allows for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period.

How do I know if I can take FMLA?

Employees are eligible to take FMLA if they have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, have worked for at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months, and have worked at a location where the employer, within 75 miles, has employed at least 50 employees.

Can I lose my job if I take FMLA leave?

NO. It’s illegal for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or deny an employee’s rights under FMLA. Employers cannot use taking FMLA leave as a negative factor when hiring, promoting, or disciplining workers. Taking FMLA leave cannot count under “no fault” attendance policies.

Can I lose my job if I complain about a violation of FMLA

NO. An employer cannot take any adverse employment action based on a complaint of an FMLA violation

When can I use FMLA leave?

You can take FMLA leave to care for sick family members, a newly born or adopted child, or for yourself.

What kinds of situations qualify for FMLA leave?

Situations that qualify for FMLA leave are: personal illness of the employee, the care of a newly born or adopted child, the care of a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition. 

Can I take FMLA leave to care for my same-sex spouse even though I live in a state that does not recognize my marraige?

YES. Under a new rule issued by the Department of Labor, you may take FMLA leave to care for your same-sex spouse if your marriage was valid int he state where it was celebrated, regardless of whether your marriage is recognized in the state where you currently live. This also means that all employers covered by the Act are prohibited from denying requests for FMLA leave to care for a same-sex spouse, and may not fire or penalize an employee for making a request or taking FMLA leave.

Can I take FMLA leave to care for partner's my child, even if my partner and I are not married?

YES. FMLA allows workers to take leave to care for a “son or daughter.” FMLA defines a “son or daughter” as a “biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis.”

What does the term in loco parentis mean?

The term “in loco parentis” refers to the person who stands in the place of a parent, but does not have a legal or biological relationship to his or her child. This includes the children of your same-sex partner or spouse, if you are acting as a parent to that child - even if you do not share a legal relationship to that child (biological or adoptive).

Some examples of in loco parentis relationships are when an employee co-parents a child with his or her same-sex partner, a grandparent takes the responsibility of raising a child because the parents cannot provide care, when an aunt or uncle raises a child after the death of the child’s parents, or when a friend takes care of the child of a single parent that has been called to active military duty.

Can I take FMLA leave to care for a child that I do not have a biological or legal relationship to, but for who I providing day-to-day care?

YES. FMLA allows leave to take care of a child for whom an employee is standing in loco parentis - and requires no legal or biological relationship to the child. For example, employees who co-parent the legal or biological children of their same-sex partners can take FMLA leave to care for the children.

Can I take FMLA leave to care for my parent?

YES. FMLA allows an employee to take leave to care for an ill parent. This includes taking leave for a parent with whom you have no legal or biological relationship, but who stood in loco parentis to you as a child. However, FMLA does notallow leave for the care of in-laws.

Can I take FMLA leave to care for a domestic partner?

NO. Unfortunately, FMLA does not currently allow workers to take care of a domestic partner. Te only people for whom an employee can take FMLA leave is a same or different-sex spouse, a child (as defined above), or a parent (except in-laws).

Is there a number I can call to get more information?

YES. You can the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor at 1-866-4-879243(USWAGE) or visit: www.dol.gov/whd.

If you experience any difficulties accessing Family and Medical Leave, please contact Family Equality Council at info@familyequality.org.