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The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) permits eligible employees to take unpaid leave for specified family and medical reasons without risk of losing their jobs and with continuation of existing health insurance. Before the FMLA became law, employees could lose their jobs and their health coverage if they took time off from work to care for themselves or an ill or injured family member.

Employers covered by the FMLA — public agencies, all public and private elementary and secondary schools and companies with 50 or more employees — must provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for any of the following reasons:

  • Birth and care of a newborn child of an employee
  • Placement with the employee of a child for adoption for foster care
  • Care for an immediate family member (i.e., spouse, parent or child) with a serious health condition
  • Medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition

Employers must also provide up to 26 weeks of leave each year to care for a member of the U.S. armed services if that employee is the servicemember’s spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin.

If you have to take time off from work due to pregnancy complications, your employer can count that against the 12 weeks of family and medical leave.

As an employee, you become eligible for FMLA benefits if you have worked for your employer for at least 12 months, at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location where your employers employ at least 50 workers within 75 miles.

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