Family & Medical Leave: Your Rights and Legal Protections

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides employees with job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons. This law allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for the birth or adoption of a child, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or if the employee has a serious health condition. In this article, we will explore the FMLA, your rights as an employee, and what you can do to protect your legal protections under this law.

Eligibility for FMLA

To be eligible for FMLA, you must work for a covered employer and have worked for that employer for at least 12 months. Additionally, you must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months. Covered employers include private sector employers with 50 or more employees, as well as local, state, and federal government employers.

Reasons for FMLA Leave

FMLA leave can be taken for the following reasons:

  1. Birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child
  2. To care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition
  3. If the employee has a serious health condition that makes them unable to perform their job
  4. Military caregiver leave for a family member who is a covered service member
  5. Qualifying exigency leave for a family member who is a covered service member

Rights and Protections Under FMLA

Employees who take FMLA leave have several rights and protections, including:

  1. Job protection: Employers are required to return employees to their same or equivalent job after their FMLA leave ends.
  2. Health insurance: Employers are required to maintain the employee’s health insurance while they are on FMLA leave.
  3. Accrued benefits: Employees continue to accrue seniority and benefits while on FMLA leave.
  4. Intermittent leave: Employees may take FMLA leave on an intermittent or reduced schedule basis if medically necessary.
  5. Retaliation protection: Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees for taking FMLA leave.

How to Request FMLA Leave

To request FMLA leave, an employee must provide their employer with at least 30 days’ notice if the need for leave is foreseeable. If the need for leave is unforeseeable, the employee must notify their employer as soon as possible. Employers may require their employees to provide medical certification to support the need for FMLA leave.


The FMLA provides important job protections for employees who need to take leave for family or medical reasons. If you are eligible for FMLA leave, it is important to understand your rights and protections under this law. By knowing your rights and following the proper procedures for requesting FMLA leave, you can protect your legal protections and take the time you need to care for yourself and your loved ones.

Thomas Elliott

Education: Brooklyn Law School, Brooklyn, New York. Pace University, White Plains, New York.
Professional Associations and Memberships: American Bar Association, New York State Bar, The Association of the Bar of the City of New York, Brooklyn Bar Association, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA).

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