FMLA, or the Family and Medical Leave Act, was passed in 1993. It’s a US federal leave law that requires covered employers to provide eligible employees with unpaid, job-protected leave for qualified family and medical reasons. Employees are entitled to continuation of group health insurance coverage during their leave, under the same terms and conditions they would have if they had not taken the leave.

What are eligible employees entitled to?

Twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for:

  • the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
  • the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
  • to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
  • a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;
  • any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty;” or
  • Twenty-six workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the servicemember’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (military caregiver leave).


The Department of Labor’s website offers FMLA resources, including general guidance, fact sheets and posters that can be helpful for employers.

Watch on-demand: A large Employers’ Guide to FMLA.

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Sign up for our upcoming Absence Management University webinar: A large Employers’ Guide to FMLA.

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