What Does FMLA Mean to Small Business Owners?

For those that may not be familiar with FMLA, it is the Family Medical Leave Act. In summary it allows employees to take a leave of absence for medically related purposes and family related medical incidents or procedures. There are several considerations to be made on whether an employer must honor the Family Medical Leave Act. The Family Medical Leave Act, according to the Department of Labor website, consists of the following:

The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Eligible employees are entitled to:

People commonly think of maternity leave under FMLA, but the leave extends into other situations as well.Twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for:

  • the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
  • the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
  • to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
  • a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;
  • any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on covered active duty;

While it is recommended, there are also specific regulations in regards to whether an employer is required to comply with FMLA based upon employee head count.

There are three things to consider if you are wondering if your business must, or will, provide employees options under the Family Medical Leave Act:

  1. Employee head count or type: The legal requirements for FMLA includes the employer having at least 50 employees to be required to comply with the act. In addition, if an employer operates as a public agency, including local, State, and Federal employers, and local education agencies (schools).
  2. FMLA Leave options: There are options if an employer is wanting to utilize FMLA particularly if they aren’t legally required to do so, it would just entail stating a specific leave in which it can be intermittent or reduced schedule based off of an allocated time frame. This method may be the most attractive offering for small business owners. It will just need to be specific.
  3. How FMLA affects employees: Even while an employer may not fit the requirements for FMLA; employers are still able to offer time off for employees if the employer deems necessary. This offering displays an employee centered workforce, and also allows the employer to retain employees, and yet accommodate the needs of their employees.

With services at The Payroll Department expanded to include Human Resources, small business owners now have a resource available to them when it comes to employee relations.  If you have any questions in reference to FMLA, please feel free to email Gerilyn Davis at

-Gerilyn Davis, The Payroll Department HR Services

Posted in: Benefits and Health Care, HR Rules, Regulations and Laws, Human Resources

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