Family-Oriented Benefits

The composition of families in the United States has changed significantly in the past few decades. The number of traditional families, in which the man went to work and the woman stayed home to raise children, has declined significantly, while the percentage of two-worker families has more than doubled.

The growth in dual-career couples, single-parent households, and increasing work demands on many workers has accelerated the emphasis employers are placing on family-oriented benefits. Balancing family and work demands is a major challenge facing many workers at all levels of organizations. To provide assistance, employers have established a variety of family-oriented benefits.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is a United States federal law requiring larger employers to provide employees job-protected unpaid leave due to a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform his or her job, or to care for a sick family member, or to care for a new child (including by birth, adoption or foster care). The FMLA is administered by the Wage and Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor.

Benefits for Employees Mandated by the Law
To qualify for the FMLA mandate, a worker must be employed by a business with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius of his or her worksite, or a public agency, including schools and state, local, and federal employers (the 50-employee threshold does not apply to public agency employees and local educational agencies).

He or she must also have worked for that employer for at least 12 months (not necessarily consecutive) and 1,250 hours within the last 12 months.
The FMLA mandates unpaid, job-protected leave for up to 12 weeks a year:

:-: to care for a new child, whether for the birth of a son or daughter, or for the adoption or placement of a child in foster care;
:-: to care for a seriously ill family member (spouse, son, daughter, or parent);
:-: to recover from a worker’s own serious illness;
:-: to care for an injured service member in the family; or
:-: to address qualifying exigencies arising out of a family member’s deployment.

The FMLA further requires employers to provide for eligible workers:
:-: The same group health insurance benefits, including employer contributions to premiums, that would exist if the employee were not on leave.
:-: Restoration to the same position upon return to work. If the same position is unavailable, the employer must provide the worker with a position that is substantially equal in pay, benefits, and responsibility.
:-: Protection of employee benefits while on leave. An employee is entitled to reinstatement of all benefits to which the employee was entitled before going on leave.
:-: Protection of the employee to not have their rights under the Act interfered with or denied by an employer.
:-: Protection of the employee from retaliation by an employer for exercising rights under the Act.

Non-eligible workers and types of leave
The federal FMLA does not apply to:
:-: workers in businesses with fewer than 50 employees (this threshold does not apply to public agency employers and local educational agencies);
:-: part-time workers who have worked fewer than 1,250 hours within the 12 months preceding the leave and a paid vacation;
:-: workers who need time off to care for seriously ill elderly relatives (other than parents) or pets;
workers who need time off to recover from short-term or common illness like a cold, or to care for a family member with a short-term illness; and
:-: workers who need time off for routine medical care, such as check-ups.

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