Family Emergency Leave Act

by Ed Stine ; Updated September 26, 2017
Parents of seriously ill children are one group of workers eligible for emergency leave, under federal regulations.

Any worker in the United States can take up to 12 weeks off from work during a family emergency with the guarantee of a job when they return. The Family and Medical Leave Act requires employers to have the same job, or an equal position, as well as the same benefits, available when someone returns from leave.

Eligible Employees

People wanting to take FMLA leave need to work at a business with at least 50 employees in order for the set of federal regulations to apply. To be eligible for leave, employees need to have worked at a business for one year and 1,250 hours.

Allowed Reasons

The FMLA allows workers to take off up to 12 weeks for several reasons, including the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child; the serious illness or injury of a spouse, parent or child; or the worker contracts a serious illness or suffers an injury.

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While the FMLA allows workers to take off up to 12 weeks, there are no requirements for employers to pay the people during that time. Workers can use sick days and personal days to continue pay during the time off.


The FMLA requires employers to hold jobs open for their employees when they take off time. But if employers that immediately need to fill the position can fill it, but they must have an equal position available when the employee returns to work.


An employer cannot strip a worker of insurance benefits for taking FMLA leave. Workers must pay their premiums while they are gone, but they can defer the payments until they return to work and start receiving paychecks again.

Advanced Notice

People intending to take FMLA leave need to let their employers know at least 30 days in advance, if possible. If it is an emergency, employees need to notify their employers as soon as possible.

About the Author

Ed Stine began his journalism career in 2009. He is a business reporter for a community newspaper in central Indiana and he also contributes to its lifestyles magazine. Stine has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Ball State University.

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