Understanding FMLA

For many employers, there is nothing more intimidating than trying to make sense of complicated employee health laws. One law that causes employers a lot of anxiety is the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. The FMLA is a law that was passed in 1993 to help people keep their jobs and their health care even if they are unable to work for certain health-related reasons. The law requires many employers to allow employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, retaining their same title, salary, and benefits, when certain conditions apply.

The law contains a lot of details about which employers are covered, which employees are eligible for leave, how much leave time they are allowed to take, and which conditions the employees are required to meet. This can all feel a bit overwhelming for employers. 

Which Employers Are Covered by the FMLA?

There are three categories of employers covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act: private sector employers, public agencies, and local educational agencies.

  1. Private Sector Employees -In order to be covered by the FMLA, a private sector employer must have had 50 or more employees during at least 20 weeks of the current or previous calendar year.

  2. Public Agencies Employees - State and local governments and government agencies, along with the federal government and its agencies, are all considered public agencies. Public agencies are all covered by the FMLA, regardless of the number of employees they have.

  3. Local Educational Agency Employees - Regardless of their number of employees, local educational agency employees are covered by FMLA. Local educational agencies include public school boards and public and private elementary and secondary schools. Certain special leave rules apply to local educational agencies, but they do not apply to colleges and universities, trade schools, or preschools.

Which Employees Are Eligible?

There are several criteria used to determine employee eligibility under the FMLA. To be eligible for FMLA leave, the employee must:

  • Work for a covered employer,

  • Have worked for the employer for at least 12 months (the 12 months do not have to be consecutive),

  • Have worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months, and

  • Work at a location where the employer has 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius at the time the employee requests leave.

The requirement that eligible employees work at a location where the employer has 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius can get tricky. We mentioned above that only private sector employers have to meet the 50-employee test in order to be covered by the FMLA. Public agencies and local educational agencies are covered regardless of the number of employees they have. However, if the employer has fewer than 50 employees working nearby, the employee still might not be covered. 

At Hollis Companies, our team will work in partnership with you to ensure that you and your employees understand the FMLA. If you would like to find out more about how we can help you apply the FMLA correctly, call us at (504) 828-6400, email us at rrodrigue@hollisco.com or visit our website at www.holliscompanies.com


Ryan Rodrigue