People often wonder about the difference between the FMLA and the ADA, the difference recedes on their purpose. The FMLA provides leave to employees and the ADA prohibits discrimination against disabled individuals.
What does each Act do?
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives qualified workers up to 12 unpaid workweeks of leave each year, and it mandates that their health benefits be maintained during the leave as if the employee had been working during that time. At the end of their FMLA absence, employees are also entitled to return to the same or a similar position.
The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.
Who is eligible?
Under the FMLA employees who have worked for at least 12 months and at least 1250 hours during the previous 12 months at a location within a 75-mile radius of where at least 50 employees work.89
For the ADA any Individuals with a qualifying disability are eligible.
What conditions are covered?
The FMLA covers "Serious health conditions" impacting the employee or some members of their family. Including birth, adoption, and placement of an employee's child in foster care.
The ADA covers a 'Disability' that significantly restricts one or more important daily tasks (or a history or perception of having such a disability).
What leave is required?
The FMLA indicates that leave is required for significant health condition-related leave, up to 12 weeks per year. For specific leave relating to the military, up to 26 weeks per year. The employee may elect to use accrued paid benefits or the company may mandate intermittent unpaid leave.
The ADA states that if providing leave for the employee would be a fair accommodation and wouldn't place an unreasonable burden on the company, it might be necessary. Unless the company pays for other similar breaks, a leave of absence must normally be for a set period of time and be unpaid.
What about reinstatement?
For the FMLA employees must typically be rehired to the same role or one that is substantially equal.
As for the ADA, employers are typically compelled to maintain an open position for an employee on leave when it is necessary as a reasonable accommodation.
It is important to know that employers in the public and private sectors who employ more than 50 people are often covered by the ADA and FMLA. If an employee in these workplaces meets the criteria for "disability" (ADA) and "serious health condition," they may be entitled to benefits under both laws (FMLA). If a worker satisfies the ADA's definition of a person with a disability, they may still be eligible for ADA rights after exhausting their FMLA leave. One of these rights is accommodation. Additional leave (beyond the employee's FMLA leave) may qualify as an accommodation required by the ADA.