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Introduction to the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993

Since 1993, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) has provided employees unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical events.  These events include childbirth, adoption, and an employee’s own serious health condition or that of an immediate family member. 


Covered employers must grant an eligible employee up to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:

  • For the birth and care of the newborn child of the employee;
  • For placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care;
  • To care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or  
  • To take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.

Maintaining Health Benefits for Employees on FMLA Leave

During any FMLA leave, an employer must maintain the employee's coverage under any group health plan on the same conditions as coverage would have been provided if the employee had been continuously employed during the FMLA leave period.

Newborn in blue

Military Caregiver and Qualifying Exigency Leave

The law has more recently been expanded to provide FMLA leave for military families when a “qualifying exigency” (requirements in certain situations) arises as a result of an employee’s spouse, child or parent being called to active duty.  In addition, an employee may take up to 26 weeks of “military caregiver leave” to care for a spouse, child, parent, or next of kin who is a “covered service member” with a serious injury or illness.  In 2010, the term “covered service member” was expanded to include certain veterans.  

Employers should also be mindful that in some jurisdictions, state and local governments may provide additional benefits which are sometimes more generous.

This section provides the following:

To view these topics, click on the appropriate link on the navigation at left. 

Additional Information

  • Family and Medical Leave Act Compliance Assistance from the Department of Labor 
  • Fact Sheet on the FMLA 
  • Family and Medical Leave Act Regulations, By Subpart 
  • FMLA 2010 Military Amendments 
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act Poster  
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act Poster — in Spanish 

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