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Family Medical Leave Act – What Does it Mean for You?

At PathWays PA we receive many questions from the community about their rights as workers. To help answer some of these questions we thought a series of blog posts explaining some of those rights workers have would be helpful. We are starting with the Family Medical Leave Act because it is one of the topics we are asked about most often. 

Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) eligible employees are able to take unpaid but job protected leave for certain life events. During the leave the employee has the right to remain on the employer’s health insurance and upon return they have the right to be restored to the same or an equivalent position.

Who is covered: 

FMLA applies to public agencies, all public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees. Employees of these entities are eligible for leave if they have workeds for their employer for at least 1,250 hours over 12 months.

What is the coverage: 

Eligible employees can receive up to 12 weeks of un-paid, job protected leave per year.

When can it be used: 

An eligible employee can use FMLA for any of the following reasons:
  • for the birth and care of the newborn child of an employee; 
  • for placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care; 
  • to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; 
  • to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition; or 
  • for qualifying exigencies arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on active duty or call to active duty status as a member of the National Guard or Reserves in support of a contingency operation. 
  • Twenty-six workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the employee is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of the servicemember (Military Caregiver Leave) 

If you feel that these rights have been violated you can file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division, file a private lawsuit under the Act, and testify or cooperate in other ways with an investigation or lawsuit without being fired or discriminated against in any other manner.

 Legislative Updates: 

Joanne’s Law”: Right now in Pennsylvania workers cannot use FMLA to care for a sibling and work is being done to change that. House Bill 1713 would bring Pennsylvania in line with many other states in allow workers to use their FMLA if a sampling become ill and needs care.

Family Medical Leave Enhancement Act: Congress has before it a bill (HR 1440) that would amend FMLA to decrease the number of employees needed for an employers to be eligible from 50 to 25.

Family Medical Leave Inclusion Act: Congress is considering a bill (HR 2364/HR 1283) that would expand the definition of family member to allow FMLA leave to care for a domestic partner, parent-in-law, adult child, sibling, grandchild, or grandparent.

Domestic Violence Leave Act: The House has a bill, HR 3151, that would allow employees to use FMLA leave to address domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and their effects.

For more information visit: Some additional questions can be answered here:


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