The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) generally requires private employers with 50 or more employees to provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period for certain family and medical reasons. Those reasons include the birth and care of a newborn child or placement of an adopted or foster child with an employee, as well as leave to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition or when an employee is unable to work because of the employee’s own serious health condition (including incapacity due to pregnancy).
Employees are eligible for federal FMLA leave if they have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, 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. Employers subject to FMLA are required to maintain group health insurance coverage for an employee on FMLA leave on the same terms as if the employee continued to work. Upon return from FMLA leave, an employee generally must be restored to the employee’s original position or an equivalent position identical to the original in terms of pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions.
Many states also have laws requiring that employers grant certain employees leave from work due to specified family, medical, or other circumstances.
The Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act (PFMLA) requires that employers of 50 or more employees grant an unpaid leave of absence, upon the request of an eligible employee, for 13 consecutive weeks in any two calendar years, under certain conditions. Employees are eligible to apply for leave if they are full-time employees who work an average of 30 hours a week or more and have been employed continuously for at least 12 months.
The leave required to be provided under the PFMLA must be for one or more of the following reasons:
Unless prevented by medical emergency, the employee must give at least 30 days’ notice of the intended date upon which the requested leave is to commence and terminate. Employers may require the employee to provide written certification from a physician which specifies the probable duration of the requested leave.
Employees who are granted leave under the PFMLA are entitled to be restored to the position held when the leave commenced, or to a position with equivalent seniority, status, employment benefits, pay and other terms and conditions of employment, including all fringe benefits and service credits that the employee had been entitled to at the commencement of the leave.
The employer is required to maintain any existing health benefits of the employee for the duration of the parental or family leave. Prior to commencement of the leave, the employee must pay the employer the premium required to maintain the employee's health benefits during the period of leave. The employer must return such payment to the employee within 10 days following the employee's return to employment.
Employers must post the following notice in conspicuous places where notices to employees and applicants for employment are customarily posted:
Employers with 50 or more employees are also required to grant an employee who has been employed for 12 consecutive months 10 hours of leave during any 12 month period to attend school conferences or other school-related activities for a child of whom the employee is the parent, foster parent, or guardian. A notice of 24 hours prior to the leave must be given to the employer by the employee. The leave is not required to be paid, except an employee may substitute any accrued paid vacation leave or other appropriate paid leave.
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