Employment and Labor
Family Medical Leave Act
Federal Family Medical Leave Act
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that was enacted in 1993 and entitles employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for qualified medical and family reasons. Covered employers are generally private companies that have 50 or more employees and local, state or federal agencies.
Employees covered by the FMLA are generally entitled to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for the following reasons:
- the birth and care of the newborn child of an employee;
- the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care;
- the care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or
- the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition and must take medical leave.
Employees are also generally entitled to 26 weeks of leave during a single 12-month period for the following reason:
- to care for a service member of the Armed Forces, National Guard, or Reserves with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the service member’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin.
To be eligible for FMLA leave, employees generally must have worked for an employer for at least 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months.
During FMLA leave, an employer must usually maintain the employee’s existing level of coverage under the group healthcare plan. At the end of the FMLA leave, an employer must allow the employee to return to the same or an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay, and status.
The District of Columbia’s Family and Medical Leave Act
For private sector employees in the District of Columbia, a local law (in addition to the FMLA) may apply in addition to the FMLA. The District of Columbia’s Family and Medical Leave Act (DCFMLA) applies to employers within the District that employ 20 or more employees. An employee may be eligible for DCFMLA if they have worked for the employer for at least 12 months (with no break in service) and worked at least 19 hours a week during this timeframe. The DCFMLA provides 16 weeks of job-protected “medical” leave to qualified employees with a serious health condition every 24 months. An employee under DCFMLA may also be entitled to up to 16 weeks of “family” leave during a 24-month period (1) for the birth or adoption of a child or (2) to care for a family member with a serious health condition. The DCFMLA also requires employers to provide 24 hours of parental leave each year to permit employees to attend school-related events.
While D.C. government employers and employees are covered by the DCFMLA, federal employees are not because it is a state specific law. Employees in the District of Columbia, like in the FMLA, are entitled to be reinstated to the same or an equivalent position at the end of protected family and medical leave.
Maryland Flexible Leave Act
Maryland employees, in addition to FMLA coverage are covered under the Maryland Flexible Leave Act (MFLA) enacted in 2008 and amended in 2009. The MFLA applies to businesses with 15 or more employees and requires these employers that provide any form of paid leave to allow employees to use such leave for the illness of an immediate family member. In addition, the MFLA prohibits Maryland employers from discharging or disciplining or otherwise engaging in discrimination against an employee (or threatening to do so) against an employee who exercises his or her rights under the FMLA.
Virginia Follows the FMLA But Does Not Create Additional FMLA Rights
Virginia, while it follows the FMLA, has not enacted additional state laws covering FMLA type leave for employees. For employees in Virginia, they are covered by the FMLA, but at present they are not covered by additional state specific FMLA laws.
We Can Help
If you have been denied leave or discriminated against for taking leave under the FMLA, MFLA, or DCFMLA, please contact Berry & Berry, PLLC to schedule a consultation with an attorney to evaluate your potential FMLA case and discuss your rights.