Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993

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Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
Great Seal of the United States.
Long titleAn Act To grant family and temporary medical leave under certain circumstances.
Colloquial acronym(s)FMLA
Enacted by the 103rd United States Congress
Public LawPub.L. 103–3
Stat.107 Stat. 6
Legislative history
  (Redirected from FMLA)
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Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
Great Seal of the United States.
Long titleAn Act To grant family and temporary medical leave under certain circumstances.
Colloquial acronym(s)FMLA
Enacted by the 103rd United States Congress
Public LawPub.L. 103–3
Stat.107 Stat. 6
Legislative history

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is a United States federal law requiring covered employers to provide employees job-protected and unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons. Qualified medical and family reasons include: personal or family illness, family military leave, pregnancy, adoption, or the foster care placement of a child.[1] The FMLA is administered by the Wage and Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor.

The bill was a major part of President Bill Clinton's agenda in his first term. President Clinton signed the bill into law on February 5, 1993 (Pub.L. 103–3; 29 U.S.C. sec. 2601; 29 CFR 825) and it took effect on August 5, 1993, six months later.

The FMLA was intended "to balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of families."[2] The Act allows eligible employees to take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period to attend to the serious health condition of the employee, parent, spouse or child, or for pregnancy or care of a newborn child, or for adoption or foster care of a child. In order to be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must have been at the business at least 12 months, and worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles. The FMLA covers both public- and private-sector employees, but certain categories of employees are excluded, including elected officials and their personal staff members.[3]


In 2007, the Department of Labor estimated that of the 141.7 million workers in the United States, 94.4 million worked at FMLA-covered worksites, and 76.1 million were eligible for FMLA leave. Between 8 percent and 17.1 percent of covered and eligible workers (or between 6.1 million and 13.0 million workers) took FMLA leave in 2005.[4] The 2008 National Survey of Employers found no statistically significant difference between the proportion of small employers (79%) and large employers (82%) that offer full FMLA coverage.[5]

Benefits for Employees Mandated by the Law[edit]

To qualify for the FMLA mandate, a worker must be employed by a business with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius of his or her worksite, or a public agency, including schools and state, local, and federal employers (the 50-employee threshold does not apply to public agency employees and local educational agencies). He or she must also have worked for that employer for at least 12 months (not necessarily consecutive) and 1,250 hours within the last 12 months. (There are special hours rules for certain airline employees.[6])

The FMLA mandates unpaid, job-protected leave for up to 12 weeks a year:

The FMLA further requires employers to provide for eligible workers:

Non-eligible workers and types of leave[edit]

The federal FMLA does not apply to:

State-level FMLA benefits[edit]

Some states have enacted laws that mandate additional family and medical leave for workers in a variety of ways.

Dropping the employer threshold[edit]

The federal FMLA only applies to employers with 50 or more employees. Some states have enacted their own FMLAs that have a lower threshold for employer coverage:

Expanding the definition of family[edit]

The federal FMLA only applies to immediate family—parent, spouse, and child. The 2008 amendments to the FMLA for military family members extend the FMLA’s protection to next of kin and to adult children. The Department of Labor on June 22, 2010 clarified the definition of "son and daughter" under the FMLA "to ensure that an employee who assumes the role of caring for a child receives parental rights to family leave regardless of the legal or biological relationship" and specifying that "an employee who intends to share in the parenting of a child with his or her same sex partner will be able to exercise the right to FMLA leave to bond with that child."[21] Some states had already expanded the definition of family in their own FMLAs:

Increasing the uses for FMLA leave[edit]

FMLA leave can be used for a worker’s serious health condition, the serious health condition of a family member, or upon the arrival of a new child. State FMLA laws and the new military family provisions of the FMLA have broadened these categories:

Other unpaid leave statutes[edit]

Several states have passed FMLA-type statutes to give parents unpaid leave to attend their child’s school or educational activities. Examples include: California,[42] District of Columbia,[43] Massachusetts,[44] Minnesota,[45] Rhode Island,[46] Vermont.[47] Some states have passed FMLA-type statutes to give workers unpaid leave to take family members to routine medical visits, including Massachusetts[48] and Vermont.[49] And states have passed FMLA-type statutes to give workers unpaid leave to address the effects of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault. Examples include Colorado,[50] Florida,[51] Hawaii,[52] and Illinois.[53]


Critics of the act have suggested that by mandating various forms of leave that are used more often by female than male employees, the Act, like the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, makes women more expensive to employ than men. They argue that employers will engage in subtle discrimination against women in the hiring process, discrimination which is much less obvious to detect than pregnancy discrimination against the already hired. Supporters counter that the act, in contrast to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, is aimed at both women and men, and is part of an overall strategy to encourage both men and women to take family-related leave.

In January, 2011, two grieving parents, Kelly Farley of Chicago and Barry Kluger, of Scottsdale, Arizona, began a national petition to urge Congress to amend the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 to include loss of a child, which currently is not covered in the national bill nor the states, although Maine offers leave for a service member killed in action. The Farley-Kluger Initiative is supported by 18 national organizations, including: Parents of Murdered Children (POMC), the military organizations Blue Star Families, Marine, Gold Star Family Support, The JED Foundation (college-age suicide), The American Institute of Healthcare Professionals, The American Academy of Grief Counselors, The Children's Bereavement Center, the M.I.S.S. Foundation and others. On February 5, 2013, the 20th anniversary of the FMLA being signed into law by President Clinton, Congressman Steve Israel (D-NY), introduced the Sarah Grace-Farley-Kluger Act in the House of Representatives (HR515) with a companion bill introduced the same day by Sen.Jon Tester (D-MT), inspired by signatures and letters received from the Farley-Kluger Initiative Petition, The Parental Bereavement Act of 2013 (S226). As of April 15, 2013, there are 16 House sponsors and seven Senate Sponsors.

See also[edit]

Parental leave


  1. ^ "Family and Medical Leave Act," Stephen Bruce. HR Daily Advisor. [1] Retrieved on 20 September 2011.
  2. ^ "Findings and Purposes," 29 U.S.C. § 2601
  3. ^ 29 U.S.C. § 2611
  4. ^ "Family and Medical Leave Act Regulations: A Report on the Department of Labor’s Request for Information." 28 June 2007. Department of Labor, Employment Standards Administration, Wage and Hour Division. Federal Register, Vol. 72, No. 124. [2]
  5. ^ Galinsky, E., Bond, J., Sakai, K., Kim, S., Giuntoli, N. 2008. National study of employers. New York, NY: Families and Work Institute. [3]
  6. ^ "Family and Medical Leave Act Airline Flight Crew Technical Amendments". 
  7. ^ "DoL Opinion". 
  8. ^ Vedder Price (January 26, 2011). "Struggling with Intermittent FMLA Leave". The National Law Review. Retrieved 2012-04-29. 
  9. ^ 26 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 26 § *843 (3)(A)
  10. ^ 26 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 26 § 843 (3)(C)
  11. ^ Minn. Stat. § 181.940 (Subd. 3)
  12. ^ Or. Rev. Stat. § 659A.153 (1)
  13. ^ R.I. Pub. Laws §28-48-1(3)(i)
  14. ^ R.I. Pub. Laws § 28-48-1(3)(iii)
  15. ^ 23 VSA § 471(4)
  16. ^ 23 VSA § 471(3)
  17. ^ RCW § 49.78.020(5)
  18. ^ RCW § 49.86.010 (6)(a)
  19. ^ RCW § 50.50.080(1)
  20. ^ D.C. Code § 32-516(2)
  21. ^ "US Department of Labor clarifies FMLA definition of ‘son and daughter’". U.S. Department of Labor. 2010-06-22. Retrieved 2010-07-14.  News Release Number: 10-0877-NAT
  22. ^ Cal. Fam. Code § 297.5
  23. ^ Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-38nn
  24. ^ Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-51kk (7)
  25. ^ Haw. Rev. Stat. § 398.1
  26. ^ Haw. Rev. Stat. § 398.3
  27. ^ 26 ME. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 843 (4)(D)
  28. ^ LD 2132
  29. ^ N.J. Stat. Ann. § 37:1-31
  30. ^ N.J. Stat Ann. § 34-11B(3)(h)
  31. ^ HB 2007
  32. ^ OR. Rev. Stat. § 659A.150 (4)
  33. ^ R.I. Pub. Laws § 24-48-1(5)
  34. ^ 23 VSA § 1204(a)
  35. ^ 23 VSA § 471(3)(B)
  36. ^ Wis. Stat. §103.10(1)(f)
  37. ^ D.C. Code 32-501(A), (B), (C)
  38. ^ Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-51ll (2)(E)
  39. ^ 26 ME. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 843 (4)(E)
  40. ^ 26 ME. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 843 (4)(F)
  41. ^ OR. Rev. Stat. § 659A.159 (d)
  42. ^ Cal. Lab. Code § 230.8
  43. ^ D.C. Code 32-1202
  44. ^ Mass. Gen. Laws. Ch. 149 § 52(D)(b)(1)
  45. ^ Minn. Stat. § 181.9412
  46. ^ R.I. Pub. Laws § 24-48-12
  47. ^ 23 VSA § 472a (a)(1)
  48. ^ Mass. Gen. Laws. Ch. 149 § 52(D)(b)(2)&(3)
  49. ^ 23 VSA § 472a (a)(2)
  50. ^ Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-34-402.7
  51. ^ FLA. STAT. § 741.313
  52. ^ Haw. Rev. Stat. § 378-72
  53. ^ 820 Ill. Comp. Stat. 180/1-180/45

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