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How are workers protected under the FMLA?

American workers are protected by many laws, including the Family and Medical Leave Act. While many people understand the FMLA, including how this protects them as an employee, some are unsure of what benefits it brings to them.

The FMLA entitles eligible employees working for a covered employer to take job protected, unpaid leave for a personal or family medical reason. Furthermore, continuation of a group sponsored health insurance policy is guaranteed.

Just because you have a full-time job does not mean you are covered by the FMLA. Your employer must meet specific requirements for you to be eligible. Most importantly, the company must have employed 50 or more workers in 20 or more workweeks, in the past or current calendar year.

Employers are prohibited from retaliating against an employee who takes FMLA leave. For example, they cannot tell the person he or she may not be able to return to work following his or her leave. The company is also prohibited from demoting the person for taking a leave under the FMLA.

To ensure that companies follow the law, the FMLA is administered and enforced by the Wage and Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor.

There are tens of millions of employees who qualify for FMLA leave, but many never consider taking advantage of it as they are not in position where this is necessary. In the event that an eligible employee request a leave from an eligible employer, he or she must be permitted to do so based on the details of the law. Failure for the company to comply can lead to legal action.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, "Wage and Hour Division," accessed April. 28, 2015

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