Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Rights

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Rights

What are FMLA Rights?

Less than two weeks after being inaugurated, President Bill Clinton signed The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) into law on February 5, 1993. The federal law was intended to balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of families. The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions.

Eligible employees are entitled to:

  • Twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for:
    • the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
    • the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
    • to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
    • a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;
    • any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty;” or
  • Twenty-six workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the service member’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (military caregiver leave).

The FMLA gives unions a tool to defend employees who face discipline or discharge for health-related attendance problems. If you believe you were improperly denied FMLA leave or disciplined or discharged for requesting or taking FMLA leave, contact your steward. For more information, visit