The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires covered employers to provide employees eligible under the law with unpaid, job-protected leave for qualifying reasons.
An employee is eligible for FMLA benefits if they:
- Work for a covered employer;
- Have worked for their employer for at least 12 months as of the date the FMLA leave is to start;
- Have at least 1,250 hours of service for their employer during the 12-month period immediately before the FMLA leave is to start (different hours-of-service requirements apply to airline flight crews); and
- Work at a location within 75 miles of which their employer employs at least 50 employees (at the time the employee gives notice of the need for leave).
Meeting the Months-of-Employment Requirement
An employee must work for their employer for 12 months before they are eligible for FMLA. These months do not have to be consecutive, and they include part-time, temporary and seasonal work. In addition:
- Any part of a week during which an employee is maintained on the payroll counts as a week of employment; and
- Any combination of 52 weeks equals 12 months for this purpose.
If an employee has a break of seven years or more in their employment, their employer is generally not required to count the time worked before the break toward FMLA eligibility, with limited exceptions. The employer may count the time before the break toward the required 12 months of work if it does so for all employees with similar breaks in employment.