The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was passed in February of 1993, twenty years ago. Since then, it has provided countless workers throughout the United States with job-protected medical leave to care for themselves or their family members.
Under the FMLA, eligible employees are able to take up to 12 weeks off from work without fear that they will not have a job upon their return. The FMLA prohibits and employer from retaliating against an employee who takes job-protected medical leave; that employee cannot be fired, demoted or moved to a less desirable position while taking FMLA leave.
FMLA also requires an employer to continue group health plan coverage for the employee while he or she is on approved leave as well. That does not mean there is no cost to the employee for that insurance, but it does mean that it cannot be taken away simply for taking medical leave.
Despite the good that has come from FMLA protections for workers in California and throughout the United States, there is still room for improvement. Many workers who need to take time off from work are ineligible for FMLA leave because the company they work for is too small or they have not worked for the same employer long enough to qualify for benefits.
Still others who may qualify for FMLA leave are unable to take medical leave because it is simply not affordable. While FMLA guarantees you your job back when you return from medical leave, it does not guarantee a source of income while you are on leave. There is no requirement that an employer provide paid FMLA leave.
Source: Huffington Post, "FMLA Anniversary: Celebrating 20 Years of Strengthening Families," February 4, 2012