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Why some workers are not eligible for FMLA-supported leave

On Behalf of | Jul 7, 2024 | Employment Law

In 1993, the federal government enacted the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allowed covered employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for family or medical reasons.

Despite the benefits the law provides many employees, not everyone can enjoy them.

Reasons why a worker may not be covered

The following are some of the reasons why a worker may not be eligible for FMLA-supported leave:

  • They work for a small business that has less than 50 employees.
  • They lack work hours or have not worked long enough for their employer. The law calls for workers to have worked at least one year and rendered at least 1,250 hours.
  • The worker’s company does not meet the 75-mile rule, which requires that at least 50 employees work within a 75-mile radius.

These demanding criteria leave many workers missing out on FMLA benefits.

Lawmakers are considering reforms to the law

Because of these stringent requirements, some lawmakers are pushing for reforms. Fifteen percent of workers are ineligible for FMLA leaves because they work for small businesses. If the government decreases the minimum threshold to just 40 employees, it may allow 900,000 workers to take FMLA leave.

Today’s economy has also changed. The number of gig workers is growing. Almost 30 percent of women 25 to 34 years old have reported working for their employers for less than a year.

Lastly, more workers are working remotely, and companies increasingly have a workforce scattered across locations that surpass the 75-mile radius.

What to do if you are covered but are denied the request

Following proper protocol and avoiding throwing a fit when your request gets denied is essential. Before anything else, ask your employer or manager the reason for the denial. Both your question and their reply must be in writing. This practice helps build a paper trail and proof of the denial. Get copies of your leave request if you have not kept a copy and evidence of your need to file a leave, such as a doctor’s certificate.

If your employer cannot provide adequate reasons for denying your request, you may file a complaint with the Department of Labor. You may also consider other legal alternatives.