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Policy Brief: The Family Medical Leave Act After Two Decades

Jacob Klerman, Kelly Daley, Alyssa Pozniak

White Paper

February 6, 2013

It is now two decades since President Clinton signed the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) on February 3, 1993. The FMLA guarantees qualifying employees of covered businesses unpaid, job-protected leave for specific reasons that include personal or family illness, the birth or adoption of a child, or military service. To be eligible under the law an employee must:

  • Work for an employer with 50 or more employees located within 75 miles;
  • Have 12 months of job tenure;
  • Work at least 1,250 hours a year (about 24 hoursa week). 

Abt Associates conducted a pair of surveys of employees and employers in 2012 for the U.S. Department of Labor, updating similar efforts in 1995 and 2000. The surveys identified and tracked both employer workplace practices and employee leave taking patterns and unmet need for leave. The surveys provide an important window into employer and employee experiences with family and medical leave.  

For the full reports and data (public use file), please visit: