The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) ensures that employees are given the right by their employers to go on unpaid leave under certain conditions. Unpaid leave means that the worker is allowed away from work and work-related situations or environments, and they are not paid during these times.

The Family Leave Act (FLA), just like the FMLA, are meant for certain, specific situations and are enforced under the state. Under Family Leave laws of the state, if an employee falls under any of these situations, they may apply their rights. If they:

  • have worked for the same employer for a total of at least 12 months.
  • have worked for at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months before taking leave. This is about 24 hours of work per week.
  • are employed in an organization with 50 or more employees.
  • work for a federal or state, or local public agency.
  • are about to give birth to a new-born child.
  • need to nurse a new-born baby.
  • have to care for a newly-placed adopted or foster child.
  • have to care for their partner or parent in situations where the partner or parent has a serious health condition or if the partner, parent, or family member is a covered servicemember (that is, a current member of the armed forces) recovering from a serious illness or injury sustained in the line of duty on active duty.
  • have to take care of an urgent situation called “qualifying exigencies” that arise because of a partner, parent, child, or family member.
    • is on active military duty and/or
    • has been notified he or she will be called to active duty and/or
    • is needed in a contingent situation
  • is to care for themselves due to a serious health condition.

What exactly do you qualify for?

There are subtle differences in what you qualify for among these various situations. Whichever way, the Family Leave Act provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid, protected leave to an employee or worker in a 12-month period.

If you exercise your right because of pregnancy, you only take your FLA leave for 12 months after the child is born.

If you are taking your leave because you newly adopted a child, or the child was placed in your care, you can also count your leave for 12 months after being placed in your care.

If any of these reasons also relate to military family members and your attention is needed, you are entitled to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period. These 26 weeks are additional weeks provided by FMLA laws.

Most military “qualifying exigencies” fall under FMLA laws. So, if you happen to exhaust all aspects of the FMLA laws, you may still qualify for an additional 12 weeks under the state’s FLA laws.

Every individual’s situation and need will be different. If you are not a full-time employee of the organization or if you are unsure because you are not married, or if you feel that you need clarity –which you will always need—you should reach out to your attorney to explain your rights better.

Chad Foster is a trusted family law and divorce lawyer serving Snohomish and King counties with an office in Bothell. Contact us today to discuss your legal issue.

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