• Jennifer Brown

Your Family Medical Leave Act Cheat Sheet to Understand Your Rights and Opportunities

Your Family Medical Leave Act cheat sheet to understand your rights and opportunities!

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave per year. While the law covers many essential details, it can be quite overwhelming when you start breaking down all the specifics. If you’re a caregiver or know someone who is, the balance of your work and home life can become even more heightened under these circumstances. That’s why we’ve compiled this helpful cheat sheet on everything you need to know about the FMLA as a caregiver.

What does the FMLA mean for caregivers?

The FMLA provides up to 12 weeks of leave per year for employees who need to take time away from work to address certain personal circumstances. This time off can be used for any number of reasons, including caring for an aging family member with a serious health condition. The specific details of this law vary depending on who is eligible and how much leave you need to take. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the FMLA creates a protected right to time off work, regardless of your employer’s leave policy. This means that your job will be there when you return, even if your employer doesn’t provide paid leave. All FMLA-eligible employees are entitled to the same benefits while on leave. This includes receiving their full paycheck (or other compensation, such as COBRA), maintaining their health insurance coverage (if applicable), and retaining any other benefits they would normally receive at work. In addition, eligible employees are also entitled to continue receiving any paid time off benefits they had accrued before taking FMLA leave.

Who is eligible for FMLA leave?

  • To be eligible for FMLA leave, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You have worked for your employer for at least 12 months

  • You have worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months

  • Your employer must employ 50 or more people at the same time

  • You work for a public agency (a federal agency, the government of any state or its political subdivisions, or an Indian tribe) or a public and/or private school that provides education to students

And below is an extensive list of people who are eligible to take FMLA leave:

  • You as the employee who needs to take leave

  • An employee’s spouse

  • An employee’s parent or parent-in-law

  • An employee’s spouse’s parent

  • An employee’s spouse’s child

  • An employee’s child or an employee’s child’s spouse

  • An employee’s child’s parent

  • An employee’s child’s grandchild

  • An employee’s parent-in-law

  • An employee’s grandchild

  • An employee’s sibling

  • An employee’s spouse’s parent

  • An employee’s sibling’s spouse

  • An employee’s grandparent

  • An employee’s grandchild’s spouse

  • An employee’s parent-in-law’s spouse

  • An employee’s sibling’s child

  • An employee’s parent-in-law’s child

  • An employee’s grandparent’s spouse

How much FMLA leave can you take at once?

The amount of time you can take off for FMLA is highly dependent on the specific circumstance. In general, though, you can take off as much time as you need. However, if you take more than 12 weeks total of FMLA leave during a single year, you’ll have to work with your employer to figure out how to make up for lost time. If you’re taking time off to care for an ill family member, there is no set rule for how much time you can take off. Instead, you and your employer should work together to decide how much leave is necessary while still allowing you to fulfill your obligations.

Which family members qualify for FMLA leave?

In addition to the specific circumstances listed above, you can also take FMLA leave to care for family members who have a serious medical condition. In this case, you’ll need to provide your employer with documentation proving the family member’s illness. Once you’ve done so, this person becomes “covered” under FMLA leave. Essentially, that means you have the same rights and obligations as if you were caring for a loved one yourself.

Can you use vacation time while on FMLA?

Yes. However, you should discuss this with your employer before taking FMLA leave. This will help you avoid complications once you’re back at work and ready to return. If you’ve exhausted all of your vacation time, though, you’ll likely have to use unpaid leave. This means you’ll have the same rights under FMLA as if you weren’t using vacation time at all.


As you can see, the FMLA is a comprehensive law that gives employees a wide range of rights. For caregivers, it can be especially important because it provides employees with a right to time off work when they need to address family-related circumstances. This time off can be used to care for a loved one who is ill and requires care. This break from work can be especially helpful if you’re struggling to find a balance between work and home life. That’s why it’s important to understand your rights as an employee and what you can do to make the most of FMLA.

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