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What is the Family and Medical Leave Act?

People who are employed in Texas should understand their legal rights to time away from work for personal and family reasons.

There are many reasons a Texas resident may need to take time away from work. An employee may face a serious even if temporary medical condition that makes it impossible for work for a period of time. The medical needs of a family member may also require caretaking that can be difficult to provide while working.

These are just some of the situations that give rise to the need for leave from a job. Just what should a person in Texas do if facing such a situation? Many people work for employers who are federally mandated to provide leave in these times.

The Family and Medical Leave Act

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Family and Medical Leave Act legally requires many companies to give employees a certain amount of unpaid time away from work to care for medical or family needs.

In addition, the FMLA protects workers’ jobs from being lost while they are on leave and stipulates that businesses maintain workers’ health care benefits during their periods of leave.

Employers covered by the FMLA

In the private sector, only companies with a minimum of 50 employees within a 75 mile radius who have been employed for at least 20 weeks in the previous year are required to provide FMLA-based leave to their workers. It is important to note that only employees who have worked for a company for a minimum of 12 months and have put in at least 1,250 work hours over the course of 12 months are eligible for leave under the FMLA.

The Texas Workforce Commission explains that there is no law requiring businesses that are not governed by the FMLA to provide any form of leave to workers. However, it is acknowledged that many companies voluntarily do this and such leave may be outlined in a written policy or agreement document. In some cases where employees are not eligible, they may still qualify for a limited, definite period of leave as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Reasons for leave and amount of leave possible

A personal illness or injury may qualify a person for leave under the FMLA as is the need to care for an immediate family member with a serious illness or injury. The placement of a foster or adoptive child with a family or the birth of a new baby may qualify mothers and fathers for leave under the FMLA.

Each year, an employee may take up to 12 weeks away from a job. This leave does not have to be continuous. If there is a need to care for a qualifying relative who is a member of the U.S. military, leave may be extended up to 26 weeks per year.

Protecting workers’ rights

Texas residents who are concerned about their rights to leave being properly granted by their employers should talk to an attorney. This will provide people with proper information with which to know how to proceed.