Pay and Benefits

Family and medical leave

You have the responsibility to provide workers with the family or medical leave to which they’re entitled.

If you’re a private-sector employer with 50 or more employees (or a public-sector employer), you’re required to provide eligible employees with unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.


Eligible employees of covered employers can take up to 12 workweeks of family or medical leave in a 12-month period for certain reasons, including: 

  • for the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
  • for adoption or foster care placement and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
  • to care for a spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
  • for a serious health condition that keeps an employee from performing the essential functions of their job;
  • any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that their spouse, child, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty.”


If your employee is the spouse, child, parent, or next of kin of an ill or injured covered service member, they are entitled to 26 workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to provide care for the service member.


Employees may take family or medical leave intermittently under certain circumstances. If the intermittent leave is for planned medical treatment, they must try to schedule it in a way that doesn’t unduly disrupt operations. You may temporarily transfer an employee taking intermittent leave for planned medical treatment to an alternative job with equivalent pay and benefits to accommodate recurring periods of leave better than the employee’s regular job.


You may require employees to provide certification issued by a healthcare provider to confirm that the employee or their family member is experiencing a serious health condition. Furthermore, when an employee returns to work after taking leave for their own serious medical condition, you may request they submit a fitness-for-duty certification, as long as this is a policy that applies to all employees who take leave for serious health conditions.

Young woman playing with her baby on the bed at home

We’re here to help.

We are committed to helping you understand your responsibilities as an employer. Many questions about family or medical leave may be answered by using the following elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisors:

For additional assistance, please contact:

The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor: 1-866-4-US-WAGE (1-866-487-9243)

All discussions with us are free and confidential.

Need more information?

The elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisors are a set of online tools developed by the U.S. Department of Labor to help employees and employers understand their rights and responsibilities under federal employment laws.