The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is sure to become a hot topic of conversation in Georgia in the next few years. Recent projections indicate Georgia is in the beginning stage of a baby boom that will last until at least 2010, with 120,000 expected births in the Atlanta area alone. Many working mothers and fathers are likely to take advantage of the time off from the job the federal leave act allows.
The Georgia FMLA provides job security for eligible employees who need to take leave from work to tend to medical situations within their families. The birth or adoption of a baby is an event covered under this act. Also covered is time off to adjust to new family dynamics when a foster child is placed in the home.
In order to seek job protection under the Georgia FMLA, workers must be employed by a company covered under the act. Private businesses with 50 or more employees for 20 or more calendar workweeks are covered. These covered employees must be assigned to work within 75 miles of the jobsite.
All employees of public agencies are covered regardless of staff size. Elementary and secondary school teachers in both private and public schools are covered, too, regardless of the number of employees.
To be qualified as eligible for leave, a worker must be employed for 12 months prior to beginning the leave. During this 12-month period, the worker must work a minimum of 1,250 hours, or just over 24 hours per week. For those workers with intermittent, occasional, or other “casual” work arrangements, the work does not need to be done in consecutive weeks but the 1,250 hours must have been worked in any combination of the 52 weeks prior to taking leave.
All employees considering using the FMLA should make arrangements with their employer before leave commences if humanly possible. They should make every effort to meet their employers’ requirements for continued contact throughout leave time.