The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires covered employers to grant an unpaid leave of absence for employees who can’t work because they are ill, have a newborn child, or must care for family members who are ill.
Under the FMLA a covered employer (one who has 50 or more employees) must grant an eligible employee up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:
* for the birth and care of the newborn child of the employee;
* for placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care;
* to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or
* to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition
The definition of “serious health condition” is rather lengthy but you may read it for yourself at the Department of Labor website: http://www.dol.gov/dol/allcfr/ESA/Title_29/Part_825/29CFR825.114.htm
You will find a wealth of information at that site including FAQ and the actual regulations from the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations).
Employees become eligible for the FMLA benefit after working for a covered employer for one year and working at least 1250 hours during the 12 month period preceding the leave.
Once an employer has granted the 12 weeks required by law the benefits are exhausted for that 12 month period. In that case, in may be helpful for an employee to check with human resources, to see if there any other benefits available that would allow one to remain off work longer.