Jessica L. Caruthers, Attorney at Law


The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law allowing eligible employees to take unpaid leave from their jobs for specific reasons, with guaranteed reinstatement. Employers must comply with the FMLA if they have 50 or more employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or previous year. Employees are able to take FMLA leave if (1) they have worked for the company for at least one year; (2) they worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous year; and (3) they work at a location with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.

FMLA leave is available for employees to care for a new child, tend to a serious health condition, care for a family member with a serious health condition, handle certain situations relating to a family member’s military service, or care for family members suffering serious injuries during active duty in the military.

Employees may take up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for a serious health condition, bonding with a new child, or qualifying exigencies. The leave renews every 12 months if the employee remains eligible. Employees may take up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period to care for a family member injured in active duty. This type of leave is limited to one leave period. FMLA leave also may be taken intermittently (separate blocks of type, such as for chemotherapy treatments) or by reduced schedule leave, where an employee’s usual number of working hours is reduced per day or week.

Employees are not entitled to continued wages/salary while exercising FMLA leave. However, employees are entitled to have their health insurance continue, at the same cost to them as while working. Employees may be allowed, or required, to use accrued paid leave during their FMLA leave period as well. Generally, an employee is entitled to reinstatement at the same or an equivalent position upon return from FMLA.

Employees should check with their Human Resources departments to ensure they follow proper protocol to request FMLA leave. Employers should be especially careful they are following the law – the penalties for violating the law can be expensive.


For additional information, contact attorney Jessica L. Caruthers of Outhier & Caruthers, PLLC, at 580-234-6300 or


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