When you’re in the benefits space, “FMLA” gets tossed around a lot. Whether you’re an expert in the law or can’t seem to remember what the acronym stands for, everyone could use a little refresher from time to time. Reviewing the FMLA thoroughly is a helpful way to see how it fits into your organization’s maternity benefits and leave policies.
What is FMLA?
FMLA is the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 that allows employees to take leaves of absence for specified family or medical reasons without losing their jobs. Relating specifically to maternity benefits, FMLA mandates that eligible employees receive 12 weeks of unpaid leave for:
- The birth of a child and caring for a newborn child within one year of birth
- Caring for a newly adopted or newly placed foster child
Who is covered by the FMLA?
An employee who:
- Works for a covered employer
- Has worked for the employer for at least 12 months as of the date the FMLA leave is to start
- Has at least 1,250 hours of service for the employer during the 12-month period immediately before the date the FMLA leave is to start
- Works at a location where the employer employs at least 50 employees within 75 miles of that worksite as of the date when the employee gives notice of the need for leave
Did you know adoptive parents and step-parents are included under the FMLA?
Bringing a tiny new human being into a family is a life-changing event, regardless of whether or not the new parents are biological. The FMLA protects all types of parents; it defines a “son or daughter” as “a biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis.” The broad definition is purposeful as many children live with parents/guardians who are not their biological parents.
FMLA or maternity leave policy?
At Ovia Health we believe that providing your employees with unpaid FMLA protection for their parental leave is the bare minimum. While job-protected time off to adjust to a newborn or a new member of the family is helpful, paid maternity/paternity/family leave is ideal. By supporting your employees with the time off and salary that is necessary to grow a family, they will in turn support your organization. They will return to work happier, healthier, and with more confidence. In a competitive job market, providing familial benefits beyond FMLA will help you attract and retain top talent.