The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) (29 U.S.C. § 2601), entitles certain employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for specified family and medical reasons. This article contains an overview of the FMLA and the Maryland’s Parental Leave Act (MPLA).
Read the law: 29 U.S.C. §§ 2601
If you have further questions about your rights under the FMLA, you should consult with an attorney or your employer. More information on the FMLA is also available of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) website. The DOL has also issued a helpful FMLA guide for employees.
Federal Family and Medical Leave Act
To be eligible for FMLA benefits, an employee must:
- Work for a covered employer;
- Have worked for the employer for a total of 12 months;
- Have worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months; and
- Work at a location in the United States or in any territory or possession of the United States where at least 50 employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles.
When can you take leave?
You can take up to 12 weeks of leave during any twelve month period for one or more of the following reasons.
- Due to the birth of your child and your need to provide care for the child. (Must be taken within 12 months of birth)
- Due to the placement of an adopted or foster child with you. (Must be taken within 12 months of placement)
- To care for a spouse, son, daughter or parent with a serious health condition.
- If you, have a serious health condition that makes you unable to perform the duties of your job.
The term “serious health condition” means an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves:
- inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility; or
- continuing treatment by a health care provider.
Military Family Leave
The FMLA also allows employees to take up to 26 workweeks of unpaid leave in a 12‑month period to care for a spouse, child, or parent who is a servicemember, if that servicemember has a serious injury or illness. (https://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/fmla-faqs.htm#14)
Read the law: 29 U.S.C. § 2612(a)(3)
Do you have to take all of the leave at once?
You can take leave intermittently when medically necessary to care for yourself or a seriously ill spouse, son, daughter, or parent. You will not lose the unused leave by taking the leave in segments.
However, leave for the birth or care of a child can be taken intermittently only with your employer’s approval.
Read the law: 29 U.S.C. § 2612(b)(1)
Can my employer ask me to switch positions within the company?
If you are taking leave for medical reasons, or to take care of a seriously ill family member, and your leave is foreseeable due to planned medical treatment, then your employer may require you to temporarily transfer to another position if:
- you are qualified for the position,
- the position has the same pay and benefits; and
- the position is better suited for taking periodic leave then your regular position.
Read the law: 29 U.S.C. § 2612(b)(2)
Will I have to use any of my vacation time that I have accrued?
If an employer provides paid leave (i.e., vacation, sick leave, or personal leave) to an eligible employee, the employer can require the eligible employee–or the eligible employee may elect– to substitute the paid leave for any part of or all of the period of parental leave.
Read the law: 29 U.S.C. § 2612(d)(2)(A)
Do I get paid for the time I am on leave?
Your employer may not pay you for the time that you are on FMLA leave. Additionally, if your employer provides less than 12 weeks of paid leave (such as vacation, personal leave, etc.) then they are not required to pay you the difference.
Read the law: 29 U.S.C. § 2612(d)(1)
When do you have to let your boss know that you are taking leave?
To take FMLA leave, you must provide your employer with the appropriate notice.
- If you are planning to take leave due to a birth, or child placement, then you must give your employer 30 days of notice before the leave starts.
- If the birth or child placement occurs sooner than expected, or will occur in less than 30 days, you will have to give your employers notice as soon as practical.
- If you need FMLA leave unexpectedly, you must inform your employer as soon as you can.
Read the law: 29 U.S.C. § 2612(e)
What if both spouses work for the same employer?
If you and your spouse are taking leave for the birth, or placement of a child, or in order to take care of a sick parent, then your employer may only allow you and your spouse together a total of 12 weeks of leave.
Read the law: 29 U.S.C. § 2612(f)(1)
For information about the FMLA, see the United States Department of Labor website at http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/
Read the entire law: Family and Medical Leave Act
Maryland's Parental Leave Act
Maryland’s Parental Leave Act (“MPLA”) requires any employer in the State of Maryland that has between 15 to 49 employees to provide eligible employees with 6 weeks of unpaid parental leave benefits for the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child.
Who is an eligible employee?
An “eligible employee” is one who has asked that the employer provide parental leave and who, as of the date that the requested parental leave begins, will have:
- been employed by that employer for at least 12 months and
- worked at least 1250 hours during the previous 12 months.
The term “eligible employee” does not include independent contractors or someone who is employed at a work site where the employer employs less than 15 employees within 75 miles of the work site.
The notice you have to give your employer
Like the FMLA, you must give your employer 30 days notice before the leave starts.
Read the Law: Md. Code Ann., Lab.& Employ., § 3-1203
Exceptions to your notice requirement
The MPLA makes exceptions to this notice requirement for a premature birth, unexpected adoption, or unexpected foster placements.
Like FMLA, if an employer provides paid leave (i.e., vacation, personal leave, or sick leave) to an eligible employee, the employer may require the eligible employee–or the eligible employee may elect to–substitute the paid leave for any part of or all of the period of parental leave.
Read the Law: Md. Code Ann., Lab.& Employ., § 3-1202(c)
Insurance coverage requirements
During any period that an eligible employee takes parental leave, an employer must maintain coverage of a group health plan for the duration of the parental leave and in the same manner that coverage would have been provided if the employee had continued in employment continuously for the duration of the parental leave. An employer may recover the premium that the employer paid for maintaining coverage for an eligible employee under a group health plan during the period of parental leave if the employee fails to return to employment with the employer after the period of parental leave to which the employee is entitled has expired.
Read the Law: Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Employ., § 3-1205
When the employer can deny the leave
Under the MPLA, an employer may deny unpaid parental leave to an eligible employee if:
- the denial is necessary to prevent substantial and grievous economic injury to the operations of the employer; and
- the employer notifies the employee of the denial before the employee begins taking the leave.
Read the Law: Md. Code Ann., Lab.& Employ., § 3-1202(b)
More information about family and medical leave in Maryland is available at http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/maryland-family-medical-leave.html.