In August 1993, President Bill Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. Some state laws have a more detailed coverage, but the Act provided a federal standard for large companies regarding the employees' rights when it comes to leaves, health issues or family members that may impede their capacity to work.

Coverage, Limitations, and Eligible Employees

Employees who are eligible for Family and Medical Leave are those who are employed by companies with 50 or more workers engaging in the industry of commerce, public and state agencies, local and federal workers, and teachers and employees from both public and private schools. An employee who is qualified for the leave should have been working for a covered company for at least 12 months and the accumulated number of work hours should be at least 1,250.

There are also employees who are not qualified for an FML. Workers in a company with less than 50 employees (except public agencies and educational organizations), part-time workers who haven't accumulated 1,250 work hours, and employees who are experiencing short-term illness are not eligible for this leave. The coverage will last up to 12 weeks of leave, for every 12 month period. The leave is unpaid, but the employee will receive health care benefits if he is still employed.

Valid reasons under FMLA

These are the appropriate reasons that will be considered for the leave:

· A health condition that leaves the employee incapable of executing his tasks.

· When the employee is in charge of caring for an immediate family member who is suffering from an illness.

· In times of childbirth, child adoption or when the employee needs to care for a newly born or newly adopted child (A pregnancy related disability is not deducted from parental leave).

· A demand which came up when a family member is called to order by the Armed Forces Reserves or National Guard.

Benefits and Rights

Under the FMLA, the employee is entitled to receive health benefits. Other benefits include the protection of their other benefits while on leave, the restoration of the employee benefits before going on leave, protection of employee rights under the FMLA from interference or denial by employer, and protection from retaliation by an employer for exercising rights under the Act.

After the leave period, the employee has the right to acquire the same job he had or be transferred to a new position that is considered "equal" to the job previously held in terms of pay, tasks, working condition, job responsibility, and the like. Under the Act, the employee will also have the right to take a leave sporadically when the reason has something to do with his health.