When does an employee have the right to family and medical leave?

Employees who have worked more than 1250 hours in the past 12 months for an employer who has at least 50 employees within a 75 mile radius are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year under certain circumstances.  Those circumstances include the serious health condition of the employee or an immediate family member or the birth or adoption of a child.  While the leave is unpaid, the employee is protected from adverse job action because of the absence, and the employee is guaranteed reinstatement, in most cases, at the conclusion of the leave. 

The employee must give the employer notice of the leave, but that notice simply must be information adequate to alert the employer that the absence might qualify for leave under the FMLA; it is then up to the employer to provide the employee with the forms and information necessary to determine if the absence qualifies.

For employers, it is important that supervisors understand the rules so they can recognize when the employer's obligations are triggered.