For private employers, the application of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) depends on the number of individuals employed, both at a given location and overall. The general rule is that the act applies to any employer with more than 50 employees but there is an exception for employees who work at location with less than 50 employees. These employees are not covered even if the total number of employees for the business exceeds 50 and even though employees at larger locations are covered. In order for this exception to be applicable, there must be a total of less than 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
The act is applicable to any employer who has the requisite 50 employees “each working day during each of 20 or more calendar workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year.” If your company is growing or shrinking (or both), this standard may require some careful calculations. For example, if you cross the 50 employee threshold before the first week of June in any given year, the act will become applicable on January 1 of the next year. However, if you cross the threshold in early June, it will not become applicable until mid-May of the next year.
With the exception of more complex rules that apply to flight crews, an employee must have worked at least 1250 hours during the preceding 12-month period in order to be eligible for the leave allowed by the act. Therefore, part-time employees who work less than 24 hours per week will not be qualify.
Eligible employees are entitled to receive a total of 12 weeks of leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following: birth of a child; the placement of a child for adoption or foster care with the employee; caring for a child, spouse or parent with a serious illness; or a serious personal health condition that renders the employee unable to perform his or her job. Note that men as well as women are entitled to leave for the birth or adoption of a child. The 12 week period is extended to 26 weeks if the family member for whom care is being provided is a covered member of the armed forces.
Unless the employer and employee agree otherwise, the leave required by the act must be taken all at once for any given qualifying event.
There is no requirement that the employee be paid during the leave period. Also, the leave to which the employee is entitled may include leave that he or she would have otherwise. For example, if the employee is entitled to a two week vacation, he or she will only be entitled to receive an additional 10 weeks off under FMLA. (Not 2 +12 for a total of 14 weeks.)