FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT (FMLA) requires employers to provide up to twelve weeks, or 480 hours, of unpaid leave annually to any employee for any serious medical condition of the employee or a member of the employee's immediate family, or for the birth or adoption of a child. The act was first introduced into Congress in 1985. It passed both houses of Congress, but was vetoed by President George Bush in 1991 and 1992 before being signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993.
The FMLA covers all public employers and private companies with more than fifty employees. A central component of FMLA is the requirement that employers who provide their workers with health insurance must maintain group health coverage for any employee while on leave. However, employers may require workers to prepay premiums or pay while on leave. The FMLA is enforced by the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor. FMLA rights are in addition to paid sick leaves, but employers may force workers to use vacation or personal leaves after FMLA benefits expire. Employers are forbidden to deny benefits to or discharge those employees using FMLA benefits. Some rights coincide with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, although the latter covers employers with fifteen or more workers and requires companies to provide reasonable conditions for disabled applicants.