Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was enacted to provide job protection for public and private employees. It is important to note that there are two versions of FMLA: the federal version and the state version. In general, employers should plan to comply with whichever version provides more protection for the employee. For this blog, we will provide information on both the federal FMLA and Minnesota FMLA.

Federal FMLA covers employers who have 50 or more employees working within an a 75-mile radius area. Only employees who have been employed for 20 or more workweeks during that year are counted. Minnesota’s FMLA, however, applies to employers with 21 or more employees. Under both versions, employers are required to post a pre-approved notice by the Secretary of Labor explaining the rights responsibilities under FMLA.

Under federal FMLA, employees must have worked for the company for at least one year and worked at least 1,250 hours within the past year to be eligible for FMLA. In Minnesota, employees must have been with the company for a year and worked at least half-time for the past year. Both federal and Minnesota FMLA provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period. These 12 weeks may be taken as-needed and does not have to be taken consecutively. If an employee needs to take leave to care for a family member who was injured in the military, they are provided up to 26 unpaid workweeks within a year to do so.*

Once an employee becomes eligible, employees may take leave for the following reasons:

    – for the birth or adoption of their child;
    – to recuperate from a serious health condition;
    – to care for a family member with a serious medical condition; or
    – to care for a family member who was injured while in the military.

A serious medical condition is an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care; incapacity for more than three full days with continuing treatment by a health care provider; incapacity due to pregnancy or prenatal care; incapacity due to, or treatment for, a chronic serious health condition; permanent or long-term incapacity for a condition for which treatment may not be effective, such as a terminal illness; or absence for multiple treatments for either restorative surgery following an injury or accident, or a condition that would require an absence of more than three days if not treated.

Employees who take FMLA leave are entitled to be reinstated to the same or equivalent position after their leave, with a few exceptions. An employee’s FMLA leave cannot be used against them in regards to attendance requirements. Employees are also entitled to continue their health insurance while on leave.

Note that if you are an employer with less than 21 employees, Minnesota law still provides up to 16 hours of paid leave for employees.

*Additional rules apply to caring for family members who were injured while in the military.

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