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As companies improve family/medical leave offerings, still important to know your rights, P.1

Readers who pay attention to the news may have noticed that there has been a lot of talk lately about family leave. As one writer has put it, there is something of an “arms race” to offer employees better leave benefits. Companies like Netflix, Spotify, and Google all offer very generous leave benefits: respectively, one year, six months, and five months. The most recent company to enter the fray is shoe company KEEN, which will now be offering its employees more pay, more time off, and more coverage in terms of eligible relatives.

The fact that family leave is becoming something of a competition among employers is certainly a good thing in many ways, and demonstrates that there is increasing recognition of the need to balance work and family life. Those who are lucky enough to work at a company with generous leave benefits will certainly benefit. For those who don’t, it is important to be aware of state and federal requirements and to be aware of when their employer may not be complying with those requirements. 

Family leave requirements exist at both the state and federal level. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act, for its part, requires covered employers to offer twelve workweeks of job-protected leave over a 12-month period for a handful of possible purposes:

  • To address a serious health condition which prevents the employee from performing essential job functions;
  • To care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition;
  • To give birth and care for a newborn child within one year of birth;
  • To secure adoption placement and to care for a newly placed child within one year of placement;
  • To address issues related to the military service of a spouse, son, daughter, or parent.

The law also requires employers to provide the option to take up to twenty-six workweeks of leave during a 12-month period in order to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness. To qualify, the servicemember must be the employee’s spouse, child, parent, or next of kin.

In our next post, we’ll look at protections available under Minnesota law.


Think Progress, “Footwear Company Gets In On The Paid Family Leave Arms Race,” Bruce Covert, Dec. 21, 2015.

Department of Labor, “Family and Medical Leave Act: Overview,” Accessed Dec. 22, 2015.

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