What is the Family and Medical Leave Act?


If you are pregnant and are trying to figure out how you will care for your newborn and continue your employment, you may want to familiarize yourself with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA is a piece of legislation that entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. The employee’s job is protected during this time. Under the FMLA, employees are entitled to twelve workweeks of leave during a twelve month period. Eligible family and medical reasons include the following:

  1. The birth of a child
  2. The placement with the employee of an adopted child or foster child
  3. To care for an employee’s spouse, child or parent who has a serious health condition
  4. A serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his/her job
  5. 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”

The FMLA also covers military caregiver leave which entitles an employee to twenty-six workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered service members with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the service member’s spouse, son, daughter or next of kin.

Some employers offer additional maternity benefits and leave so it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with your company’s policies prior to your delivery. This will help you and your spouse plan properly for the expansion of your family.