Fact Sheet 28A: Employee Protections under the Family and Medical Leave Act | U.S. Department of Labor

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees working for covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. eligible employees may take up to 12 workweeks of leave during any 12-month period for certain family and medical reasons and up to 26 workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period for military caregiver leave. See fact sheet 28f: qualifying reasons for fmla leave and fact sheet 28m: fmla military leave provisions. This fact sheet describes the protections the Fmla offers employees while taking fmla leave and when returning to work after fmla leave.

protections during fmla leave

group health insurance benefits

If an employee receives group health insurance, the employee is entitled to continuation of group health insurance coverage during fmla leave on the same terms as if they had continued to work. If family member coverage is provided to an employee, the family member coverage must be maintained during the fmla leave. the employee must continue to make any normal contribution to the cost of health insurance premiums.

Reading: Who pays health insurance premiums while on fmla

if paid leave is substituted for fmla leave, the employee’s portion of the group health plan premiums must be paid by the method normally used during paid leave (for usually payroll deduction). An employee on unpaid fmla leave must arrange to pay the employee’s normal share of insurance premiums in order to maintain insurance coverage. If the employee’s premium payment is more than 30 days late, the employee’s coverage may be canceled unless the employer has a policy allowing a longer grace period. The employer must notify the employee in writing that payment has not been received and wait at least 15 days after the date of the letter before coverage ends.

In some cases, an employer may choose to pay the employee’s portion of the premium, for example, to ensure that it can provide the employee with equivalent benefits upon return from fmla leave. in such a case, the employer may require the worker to return said amounts. In addition, the employer may require the employee to repay the employer’s portion of the premium payment if the employee does not return to work after the fmla leave, unless the employee does not return due to circumstances beyond the employee’s control. of the employee, including an fmla-qualifying medical condition.

benefits other than health insurance

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An employee’s rights to benefits other than group health insurance while on fmla leave depend on the policies established by the employer. Any benefits that would be maintained while the employee is on other forms of leave, including paid leave if the employee substitutes for paid leave accrued during fmla leave, must be maintained while the employee is on fmla leave.

paid vacation substitution

fmla entitles eligible employees to take unpaid leave. Under certain conditions, employees may “roll over” or run concurrently with their FMLA leave, accrued paid leave (such as sick or vacation leave) to cover part or all of the FMLA leave period. An employer may also require employees to substitute accrued paid leave for unpaid FMLA leave, even when the employee has not chosen to do so. To replace accrued paid leave, the employee must follow the employer’s normal rules for using that type of leave, such as submitting a leave form or providing advance notice. If an employee does not meet the requirements to take paid leave under the employer’s normal leave policies, the employee can still take unpaid fmla leave. Paid leave taken for reasons that do not qualify for fmla leave does not count against the employee’s fmla leave entitlement.

protections when returning from fmla leave (restoration of employment)

when an employee returns from fmla leave, they must be reinstated to the same job or an “equivalent job”. the employee is not guaranteed the actual job he had before the leave. An equivalent job means a job that is substantially identical to the original job in terms of pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment (including shift and location).

Equivalent pay includes equal or equivalent pay premiums, such as a shift differential, and the same opportunity for overtime as the job you had prior to fmla leave. An employee is entitled to any unconditional salary increases that occurred while on fmla leave, such as cost-of-living increases. Salary increases conditional on seniority, length of service, or work performed should be granted only if employees taking the same type of leave for non-FML reasons receive the increases. the equivalent payment includes any bonus or unconditional payment. However, if an employee does not meet a specific goal to achieve a bonus because they took fmla leave, the employer is only required to pay the bonus if employees taking the same type of leave for non-fmla reasons receive it. . For example, if an employee is substituting accrued paid sick leave for unpaid fmla leave and other employees on paid sick leave are entitled to the bonus, then the employee taking fmla-protected leave at the same time as fmla sick leave should also receive the bonus.

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All benefits an employee has accrued prior to an fmla leave period must be restored to the employee upon return from leave. An employee returning from fmla leave cannot be required to requalify for benefits the employee enjoyed before the leave began.

limitations to fmla protections

an employee on fmla leave is not protected from actions that would have affected him if the employee were not on fmla leave. for example, if a shift was eliminated or overtime reduced, an employee would not be entitled to return to work on that shift or the original overtime hours. If an employee is terminated during the fmla leave period, the employer must be able to show that the employee would not have been employed at the time of reinstatement.

An employer may also deny restoration to a “key” employee under certain circumstances. A key employee is an fmla-eligible salaried employee who is in the highest-paid 10 percent of all the employer’s employees within a 75-mile radius. To deny reinstatement to a key employee, an employer must have determined that reinstatement would cause substantial and serious economic harm to its operations, it must have notified the employee that he or she is a key employee and that reinstatement will be denied, and it must provide the employee with a reasonable opportunity to return to work.


It is unlawful for any employer to interfere with, restrict or deny the exercise or attempted exercise of any fmla-provided right. It is also illegal for an employer to fire or discriminate against any individual for opposing any practice, or for being involved in any fmla-related proceeding. see fact sheet 77b: protections for people under the fmla. The Wage and Hour Division is responsible for administering and enforcing the FML for most employees. Most federal and congressional employees are also covered by the law, but are subject to US jurisdiction. uu. office of personnel administration or congress. If you believe your fmla rights have been violated, you can file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division or file a private lawsuit against your employer in court.

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