FACT SHEET: Family and Medical Leave Act - 20 Years Later

By Sabine Schoenbach
Policy Analyst, Workers' Rights Project
February 2013

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the first and only legislation written specifically to help workers meet the dual responsibilities of family and work, was signed into law on
February 5, 1993. Since its implementation, the law has been used more than 100 million times by working men and women who needed time away from work to take care of a family health crisis or welcome a new baby. The anniversary of the FMLA offers an opportunity to celebrate how far we have come in 20 years, but it also demands that we reflect on how far we have left to go.

The FMLA guarantees jobprotected, unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks to:

  • care for a newborn or newly adopted child
  • care for a seriously ill child, parent or spouse, or
  • recover from a serious illness.

To be protected by the FMLA, a worker must be employed by a company with 50 or more employees within 75 miles, work at least 1,250 hours per year, and have worked at the company for at least a year.

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