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The Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees to take time off from their job when certain medical or personal issues arise. Enacted in 1993, the law covers state, local and most federal government employees as well as private employees.

Under the FMLA, an eligible employee can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for specific reasons. Those reasons include the following:

  • The birth and care of a child of the employee
  • The adoption of a child by the employee
  • When a child is placed in foster care with the employee
  • When the employee has a serious health condition and is unable to work
  • When the employee needs to care for a spouse, child or parent who has a serious health condition
  • Extenuating circumstances that may arise when an employee’s spouse, child or parent is on active duty with the National Guard or Reserves or called to active duty in support of an ongoing operation

An employee is also eligible for unpaid leave to care for a spouse, child or parent who is a current member of the Armed Forces, National Guard or Reserves in the event of an injury or serious illness to the service member. This leave is limited to 26 weeks in a 12-month period.

If both spouses are employed by the same employer, they are entitled to a combined total of 12 weeks or 26 weeks. Leave for the birth of a child, adoption or placement of foster care expires 12 months following the birth, adoption or placement.

An employee is eligible for family or medical leave if he or she has worked for an employer for 12 months, has worked a minimum of 1,250 hours in the prior 12 months, and works for an entity that employed 50 or more people for 20 weeks during the current or previous calendar year.

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