Family and Medical Leave Act Fact Sheet

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Authored By: Community Legal Services of Philadelphia


The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects certain employees from getting fired while on leave for family or medical reasons. It also makes it illegal for an employer to harass an employee for taking FMLA leave, to deny a valid leave request, or to refuse to hire or promote the employee because s/he will take or has taken FMLA leave.

Are you covered?

You must meet the following two conditions:

1. Employment status :

  • Your employer must employ at least 50 people within 75-miles of your worksite; and
  • You must have worked for your employer for at least a year; and
  • You must have worked at least 1250 hours (average of about 25 hours per week) during the 12 months before the leave.


2. Covered family/medical conditions:

  • You are caring for a new child (by birth, adoption, or foster care placement); or
  • Your son, daughter, spouse, or parent has a "serious health condition;" or
  • You have a "serious health condition."

A "serious health condition" includes certain illnesses, injuries, physical or mental conditions that require medical care and make it difficult for you to work and do daily activities. Common illnesses like the flu are not usually considered "serious health conditions" unless there are complications.

If you are covered, then:

  • You may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a one year period. This leave can be taken all at once or intermittently, as needed.
  • Your employer must give you back the same job, or an equivalent one, when you return.
  • Your employer must continue to pay for your health insurance benefits if you have them.

What can you do if you think your employer has violated the FMLA?

  • Speak to your union representative, if you are a member of a union.
  • File a complaint with your local office of the U.S. Department of Labor within 2 years of the incident (check the U.S. Government listing in your local telephone directory).
  • Speak to an attorney.

If you live in Philadelphia and need more information or individual advice, contact Community Legal Services at (215) 981-3700.

Last Review and Update: Oct 27, 2021
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