If you run a business in the Twin Cities or work in human resources, chances are you know what the Family and Medical Leave Act is. This federal act allows certain employees to take unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks while continuing to receive health benefits. It also mandates that employers allow employees who take leave to keep their jobs or return to an equivalent position.

What can become confusing, however, is which employers are covered by the FMLA – because not all of them are. If you run a small business, you may be particularly interested in the information we will provide in this post.

Private-sector employers with at least 50 employees

Private-sector employers with at least 50 employees who work at least 20 weeks out of the year must provide FMLA benefits. The 20 weeks worked do not have to be consecutive, and weeks are counted by whether or not an employee worked at all that week — even if it was just one day.

Any employee whose employer meets these criteria and works within the U.S. or U.S. territories is eligible for FMLA benefits if the employee has worked for the employer at least one year, has worked at least 1,250 hours within that previous year, and works at a location with at least 50 employees in a 75-mile radius.

Small businesses are exempt

For the sake of this blog post, we are defining small businesses as those with fewer than 50 employees. Under the FMLA, private-sector employers that have fewer than 50 employees do not have to provide FMLA benefits to their employees.

Schools and educational agencies

All schools and educational agencies are covered by the FMLA regardless of how many employees they have. This includes public and private elementary and secondary schools as well as public school boards.

Public agencies and the federal government

Any public agency, including federal agencies, state agencies, and county and city agencies are all required to provide FMLA benefits to employees.

Talk to a lawyer to ensure you are in compliance

If you run a small business, it may have come as a surprise to you that you are not required to provide FMLA benefits to your employees. However, you may still have questions about your obligations under the law – or what to do if you have allowed an employee to take leave under the FMLA.

To ensure that you understand your rights and obligations as a business, it is wise to speak with an attorney who is experienced in business and employment law matters. An attorney can analyze your situation and help you better understand if you are already in compliance with federal laws or if there are steps you still need to take.