The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (Public Law 103-3) allows eligible employees to take reasonable unpaid leave (up to 12 full weeks each year) for the birth or adoption of a child, the new placement of a foster child, or the serious illness of the employee or close family member. This law was intended to extend job protection to employees for specified family and medical reasons, as well as benefiting employers by stabilizing their employee's home life, thus making employees more productive and less distracted at work.
Although all public agencies (including local governments) are covered by the FMLA, not all public employees are covered. To be eligible, employees have to work for a covered employer for at least 12 months (they need not be consecutive) and must have worked at least 1,250 hours within the prior 12-months. The eligible employee must work at a location where at least 50 employees are employed, and be within 75 surface miles of the employer.
Similar legislation, the Family Leave Act, has been adopted in Washington; this Act entitles eligible employees to twelve workweeks of leave for the birth or adoption of a child, the new placement of a foster child, or to care for the serious illness of the employee or close family member. Eligibility requirements mirror those provided for under the FMLA.
Federal legislation was adopted in 2008 that provides up to 26 weeks of leave during a single 12-month period to allow a family member to care for a member (who is a spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin) of the armed forces who has been injured in the line of duty. The legislation also allows a spouse, son, daughter or parent of a member of the armed forces to take up to 12 weeks of leave to deal with issues that arise when a member of the armed forces is called into active duty. See The Family and Medical Leave Act and National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2008. Similar legislation was been adopted in Washington in 2008, codified in chapter 49.77 RCW, allowing 15 days of leave per deployment.
State legislation was adopted in 2008 that provides for domestic violence leave; the act is codified in chapter 49.76 RCW. Under the act an employee may take reasonable leave from work, intermittent leave, or leave on a reduced leave schedule, with or without pay, to: seek legal or law enforcement assistance or remedies to ensure the health and safety of the employee or employee's family members; seek treatment by a health care provider for physical or mental injuries caused by domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, or to attend to health care treatment for a victim who is the employee's family member; obtain, or assist a family member in obtaining, services from a domestic violence shelter, rape crisis center, or other social services program for relief from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking; obtain, or assist a family member in obtaining, mental health counseling related to an incident of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking,; or participate in safety planning, temporarily or permanently relocate, or take other actions to increase the safety of the employee or employee's family members from future domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
- The Family and Medical Leave Act, as amended - Text of the federal statutes that comprise the FMLA
- Code of Federal Regulations 29 C.F.R. § 825 - Includes the detailed rules of The Family and Medical Leave Act. The regulations provide information on FMLA eligibility, employee and employer rights and obligations, types and conditions of leave, enforcement mechanisms, as well as what records must be kept.
- Ch. 49.78 RCW - Washington State Family Leave Act - Grants employees unpaid leave to care for newborn or newly-adopted child, or to care for a child suffering from a terminal illness
- Ch. 49.77 RCW - Military Family Leave Act
- Ch. 49.76 RCW - Domestic Violence Leave Act
- RCW 49.12.270 - Sick Leave to Care for a Child - Entitles an employee to use accrued sick leave to care for a child with a health condition. Unlike the FMLA, this statute does not require that the child have a "serious health condition."
- WAC 162-30-020 - This state regulation details the disability leave for pregnancy or childbirth that employers must provide.
Other Legal References
- Family and Medical Leave Insurance - Legislation was enacted in 2007 setting out a framework for a family leave insurance program, implementation has been delayed to October 2015. The statute requires that leave taken under the statute must be taken concurrently with the federal FMLA leave and permits employers to require that leave be taken concurrently or otherwise coordinated with leave allowed under collective bargaining agreements. Now codified at chapter 49.86 RCW.
- The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), prepared by the United States Department of Labor - A brief overview of the act with links to comprehensive information regarding the FMLA
- Fact Sheet for interplay between ADA and FMLA, prepared by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, 07/06/2000 - Fact sheet set out in a question and answer format, exploring the interplay between the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Advisor, developed by the Wage and Hour Division of the Employment Standards Administration - Information about employee eligibility under FMLA; including valid reasons for leave; employee/employer notification responsibilities; and employee rights and benefits
- Family and Medical Leave Entitlement, prepared by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management - Includes full regulations and questions and answers. (The Office of Personnel Management provides assistance and information for federal workers; however, since the FMLA applies to others as well, this page may be useful to Washington jurisdictions.)
- AFSCME's Comprehensive Guide to Understanding The Family and Medical Leave Act, prepared by the union American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) for its membership - This is a plain language, comprehensive guide to the act. The guide uses a question and answer format answering questions that might be asked by municipal employees.
- Family and Medical Leave Act, Department of Employee Relations, State of Minnesota - Policies, forms, questions and answers; although prepared by a Minnesota office, information and forms relate to the federal act
- FMLA Special Rules for Returning Reservists (USERRA), prepared by the United States Department of Labor - Memorandum, news release and answers to questions regarding FMLA rules applicable to returning reservists
- Fact Sheet, prepared by the U.S. EEOC - On The Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- FMLA poster, effective 01/2009
Request for FMLA Leave Forms
Sample Leave Policies from Selected Washington Jurisdictions
- Clallam County, 11/2004 - Includes spousal deployment leave and leave under state family leave act
- Ellensburg, 12/2009 - See policies for spouses of military personnel (page 50), domestic violence leave (page 55, and family leave (page 50).
- Grandview, 05/2008 - Detailed policy that includes provisions for military caregiver and pregnancy/childbirth leave
- Okanogan County
- Renton, 05/2009 - Includes provision for military caregiver and active duty leaves
- Toppenish, 05/2005
- Tumwater, 09/2011 - Includes provision for care of members of the armed forces who have been injured
- Vancouver, 05/2008
- Whatcom County, 06/12/2008 - Concise policy; includes leave for care of members of the military who are ill or injured due to their military duty