Hitting the big 50, not with birthday candles but with a total number of employees, triggers the start of a company’s obligations under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). With the recent trend of increased hiring in the U.S. economy, now is the time to begin preparations for an expanding workforce.
A few important numbers are worth noting under the FMLA.
First, any company or organization, public or private, for-profit or non-profit, is required to comply with FMLA regulations if it has at least 50 workers employed within 75 miles. This is known at the “50/75 rule.”
Second, FMLA regulations measure the requisite employee mark by examining whether there were 50 or more employees each working day during at least 20 calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. Importantly, even if a company has a fluctuating workforce that dips below 50, the company can still fall under FMLA if it did have at least 50 employees for 20 weeks in a current or previous year. Even if a request for FMLA leave comes during a time when a company’s employment level is below 50, the 20-week rule is still the determining factor.
Third, employees are eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for family and medical reasons, provided an employee has worked at least 1,250 hours, not including paid or unpaid time off, during the previous 12 months. That averages out to about 24 hours per week for 52 weeks.
By law, employers are required to notify workers of their rights under FMLA. The two most common ways to do this are to display labor law posters and to include an FMLA notification in the employee handbook.