FMLA Lawyers

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), was signed into law 30 years ago on February 5, 1993. The law provided American workers the ability to take unpaid leaves of absence to care for their medical needs as well as to care for a newborn child or a seriously ill child, spouse, or parent. The enactment of FMLA was a significant and substantial means of addressing the needs of millions of workers in the USA, and their families, to provide for unpaid leaves of absence for legitimate purposes without fear of losing their jobs.

If you are a business owner or human resources professional, you should know what the FMLA is and how it affects your employees. Familiarize yourself with the Act in this summary provided by MBM’s Employment Law specialist Mike Brungo.

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What Is the FMLA?

Employers with 50 or more employees have since been required to allow up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child, or for the care of family members or the employees themselves in the event of serious illness.

Currently, eligible employees are entitled to:

  • 12 workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for:
    • The birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within 1 year of birth;
    • The placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
    • To care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
    • A serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;
    • Any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty;” or
  • 26 work weeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the servicemember’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (military caregiver leave).

Whether you are a start-up or established corporation, get legal guidance for your HR department to assist with your FMLA concerns.

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FMLA Celebrates 30 Years

The FMLA was signed by President Clinton in February 1993 and it is the cornerstone in promoting work-life balance and protecting worker’s jobs while caring for themselves and their families. Following the celebration of the 30th Anniversary, the Biden Administration issued new guidance documents interpreting FMLA. Under the current law, all worksites with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius must comply with FMLA. A worksite for FMLA purposes can refer to either a single location or a group of contiguous locations.

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How Does FMLA Apply to Remote Workers?

What of remote workers? Does the employee’s home become a worksite?

The Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued a Field Assistance Bulletin and clarified that the FMLA coverage rules apply whether an employee reports to a designated work site or teleworks from a remote location. For teleworkers, the worksite is the office to which the employee reports or from which their assignments are made.

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How Does FMLA Apply to Employees Working More Than 8 Hours per Day?

The DOL also issued an opinion letter clarifying that an employee who normally works more than eight hours a day but becomes unable to do so as a result of a chronic condition is entitled to indefinite intermittent leave under the FMLA. For example, if an employee’s health condition necessitates limited hours, the employee could use FMLA to work a reduced schedule until the FMLA leave is exhausted.

How Does FMLA Apply to Employees with Disabilities?

Another important clarification issued by the DOL, is that an employee’s rights under FMLA and the Americans with Disabilities (“ADA”) are separate and distinct. Leave provided as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA may also qualify as FMLA leave. Most employers provide the FMLA leave and following exhaustion engage in the interactive process to determine if additional leave under the ADA is required as a reasonable accommodation. Indefinite leave under the ADA is not a reasonable accommodation.

Understandably, there can be a lot of nuance to these laws. MBM Law’s business lawyers experienced in the FMLA will be able to provide legal counsel. Call our FMLA attorneys today to discuss your concerns.

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The Future of FMLA

The Act has not been changed in its three decades, but the Biden administration has voiced its efforts to protect people’s jobs AND paychecks with a national paid leave. While the clarifications issued are helpful, there are many who believe a new model is required to address workers’ needs. Bills have been introduced to revitalize and expand the current FMLA. These bills seek to establish paid family and medical leave for full-time, part-time and self-employed workers and to remove the barrier of the “50 or more within a 75-mile radius” requirement.

If any changes to the FMLA occur, the Employment Law attorneys at Maiello Brungo & Maiello will keep you informed and provide guidance. Contact us today for more information.

Michael L. Brungo

Michael Brungo is a partner with MBM and has over 35 years of experience working with businesses, corporations, and public entities with their personnel and employment issues. He is available to help with any type of employment‐related legal matter.