Federal and State Family and Medical Leave Laws—Differences In Eligibility

Many of our workers’ compensation and PERA clients come to us with questions regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This law involves an employee’s entitlement to leave, maintenance of health benefits during leave, and an employee’s ability to get his or her job back after taking leave. This law does not provide an employee with an entitlement to wage loss benefits during the time the employee is on leave. At the outset, it is important to note that this law only covers certain employers and employees which differs at the state and federal levels. This article will outline the eligibility requirements for employees and employers at both the federal and state levels along with helping you decipher the primary distinctions.

Only certain employers are covered by the FMLA. At the federal level, the employers covered include private employers that employ fifty or more employees working at least twenty weeks of the current or preceding calendar year; public agencies, including state, local, and federal employers; and local agencies covered under special provisions of the Act. At the state level, the employers covered include employers of 21 or more employees located at a single worksite. There is no special provision for education agencies. It also provides for limited parental leave, which allows parents to go to school conferences and activities. This provision relating to parental leave is more expansive and applies to any employer with one or more employees.

Furthermore, only particular employers are eligible for various protections under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The federal law applies to those employees who have worked for their employer for at least twelve months, which do not have to be consecutive; worked at least 1,250 hours for the employer during the twelve months preceding leave, and meets certain employee thresholds and distance requirements. Specifically, the employee must work for an employer with fifty or more employees or at a worksite within seventy-five miles.

At the state level, the law applies to employees who have been employed for at least twelve consecutive months prior to their request to take leave and to employees who have worked for the employer for an average number of hours equal to one-half the full-time equivalent position in the employee’s job classification in the preceding twelve months. If you’re working for an employer that does not fulfill the employer specifications set forth above, the protections of the Family and Medical Leave Act do not apply to you. Similarly, if you do not meet the employee qualifications set forth above, you are also not entitled to these protections.

If you or a family member have any questions about the Family and Medical Leave Act and how it may affect your benefits, contact the experienced attorneys at Meuser Law Office, P.A. We will help you understand the distinctions between the federal and state Family and Medical Leave Acts and ensure you receive the full benefits you are entitled. Contact us today for a free no obligation consultation.