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Know your rights under the FMLA

Residents of Houston and other nearby parts of Texas may want to learn more about the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, and how it can help employees during times of family obligations. Federal law allows employees to take leave from work of up to 12 weeks. This is unpaid leave, and certain health conditions or family obligations must be the reason that you need the time off.

Who can give FMLA?

The employer must have at least 50 employees in the private sector for at least 20 workweeks. The following sectors must also give FMLA leave but do not need to have at least 50 employees:

• Local, state, and federal government agencies
• public and private elementary schools
• Secondary schools

How can an employee be eligible?

According to employment law regarding FMLA, you must have worked for your employer at least 12 months. Also, you must have worked 1,250 hours in the 12 months before you take FMLA. You must be working within 75 miles of where the company has 50 employees.

Military families

If you are in a military family, you may take up to 26 weeks of leave to care for a covered family member. They must have a serious injury or illness. This is for a single 12-month period.

Can you get paid leave?

That is up to the company you work for. FMLA only promises that you will have your job when your return. Some states provide additional paid leave.

Do you need to notify your employer in advance?

Yes, if it is possible, you should give 30 days’ notice of your leave. If this is not possible, you should notify your employer as soon as you know you will need the time off work.

What if you feel your employer is in violation of your rights?

You can file a complaint. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment Standards Administration handles FMLA claims.

FMLA leave gives you the ability to return to your job after taking time off to tend to your health or a family member. Understanding these rights is important.