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A basic overview of FMLA

On Behalf of | Jan 11, 2022 | Family And Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, is a U.S. federal law that protects employees who need to take time off work. In Rhode Island, employers are required to allow employees to leave work for several weeks or months for serious medical and family reasons.


Companies and agencies that are eligible for FMLA are called covered employers. These include business owners with 50 employees or more, public or government agencies, and elementary or secondary schools.

Their employees are eligible if they’ve worked for one year or longer. They must provide 1,250 work hours during those 12 months for a covered employer.


Eligible employees are allowed 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year. The reasons for their leave include family events and medical emergencies. A family event is the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child. A medical emergency is covered along with caring for a sick spouse or family member. FMLA also provides leaves that are related to covered active-duty status. Employees who care for military service family members can take 26 weeks of leave every 12 months.

Protected employees can work on an intermittent or reduced schedule, so they can leave work at separate periods of time. All employees must contact their employers about schedule changes and provide information to help the employer know if they’re qualified for FMLA.

Meeting basic qualifications

The Family and Medical Leave Act is a system of protecting employees in case of emergencies and major life events. Employees are given sufficient time to deal with personal matters and can keep their jobs when they return. However, both the employee and employer have to qualify to participate in the FMLA program.