The Family and Medical Leave Act provides eligible employees the right to take a total of twelve weeks of unpaid leave per year to do one or more of the following:
- to care for a newborn son or daughter,
- to care for a child placed with the employee through adoption or foster care,
- to care for an immediate family member with a “serious health condition,” or
- to care for the employee’s own “serious health condition” that renders the employee unable to perform his or her work functions.
In addition, the Act provides up to 26 workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness who is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin to the employee.
After the period of qualified leave expires, the employee generally is entitled to be reinstated to the former position or an equivalent one with the same benefits and terms of employment that existed before the employee took the leave. Additionally, to insure the availability of these guarantees, the FMLA declares that it is unlawful for any employer to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of or the attempt to exercise, any right provided by the FMLA. The FMLA also protects employees in the event they are discriminated against for exercising their rights under the FMLA.