Family Medical Leave Act

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The FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) is a U.S. employment law that covers matters relating to employee leave at corporations. The act grants employees certain rights to take leaves of absence for medical and family issues. It does not include bereavement leave, which is not mandated under its provisions. The leave provided more closely resembles some forms of "compassionate leave", which entitles employees to take time off from work for family emergencies, for example.

Since the FMLA is a purely U.S. employment guideline, employees in other countries should familiarize themselves with the corresponding legislation (or lack thereof) to determine whether they have more, the same or fewer family leave and other leave rights.

The U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which was passed in 1993, allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year for family-related matters. The main objective of the act is to help employees to balance work and personal commitments. Under the FMLA, employees are entitled to take leave when they or a family member is suffering from a serious health condition, which either prevents the employee from doing his work or requires taking care of the family member. Some examples are chronic illnesses like diabetes and epilepsy, hospitalization, or ongoing treatments such as chemotherapy or dialysis. Since the leave entitled under FMLA is unpaid, it is at the employer's discretion whether to provide benefits and pay if the employee takes medical leave.

Under the FMLA, there are three kinds of leave: continuous leave (when the employee is absent for more than three consecutive business days); intermittent leave (when the employee takes time off in separate blocks, whether it is hourly, daily or weekly) and reduced-schedule leave (when the employee has to reduce the amount of working hours to take care of an ailing family member).

On the other hand, there are several conditions to meet before the FMLA is applicable. Firstly, the employee has to work at the organization for more than 12 months, as well as at least 1,250 hours in the previous year. Secondly, smaller employers are not required to provide FMLA leave to their employees. (For example, if a company employs fewer than 50 people within 75 miles of the employee's worksite, the FMLA is not applicable. This restriction was enacted because small firms often find it more difficult to send a replacement far away if a needed employee were to take leave.)

According to FMLA guidelines, the employees must return to their former positions after the end of the leave, assuming that they are able to perform the essential functions of that position. If not, an alternative position with the same benefits, remuneration and work hours must be provided to the disabled employee.
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