Hitting the Magic 50 Employee Mark – What do You Need to Think About? – Part 1

Just as age marks milestones for people, so does the number of employees in the business world. For instance, turning 21 is a magic milestone for many. It is a time of change – change in how a person conducts themselves, change in how they set their goals and go about their daily lives. In business, a magic milestone is reaching fifty employees. This often also marks a time of change – change in the laws that govern the employer, change in employee expectations of the employer and certainly change in how the employer conducts their daily business and goals.

Over the next several weeks, we will be sharing a three-part series detailing what to take into account as you reach or if you have already reached the 50-employee milestone. First of all congratulations on your accomplishment! Secondly, we hope to hear from you and what you are working on to accommodate your growth. Do you have questions, best practices, additional information to share?


At the 50-employee mark, employers are responsible to comply with some additional employment laws, most notably, the Family Medical Leave Act.

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The FMLA applies to any employer in the private sector who engages in commerce, or in any industry or activity affecting commerce, and who has 50 or more employees each working day during at least 20 calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. The law also covers all public agencies (state and local governments) and local education agencies (schools, whether public or private). These employers do not need to meet the “50 employee” test in order to comply.

The FMLA requires the employer to provide up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave a year, and requires group health benefits to be maintained during the leave as if employees continued to work instead of taking leave, to an employee with a pregnancy or a serious health condition. Employees of both sexes are also entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn child, or a child recently placed with them for adoption or foster care. They are also entitled to 12 weeks of leave to care for a son or daughter (under 18), spouse or parent with a serious health condition. However, FMLA is limited to 12 weeks total for all reasons in any 12-month period. As an employer, you have the responsibility to inform an employee in writing of his or her rights under FMLA, within 5 days of any absence that could be covered by FMLA. Read more about FMLA here: http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/benefits-leave/fmla.htm

Affirmative Action

Under Executive Order 11246, employers who have 50+ employees and $50,000 in government contracts must have an Affirmative Action Plan (AAP) and take affirmative action to recruit and advance qualified minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and covered veterans. Affirmative actions include training programs, outreach efforts, and other positive steps. These procedures should be incorporated into the company’s written personnel policies. Employers with written affirmative action programs must implement them, keep them on file and update them annually. To find out more about Affirmative Action Plans, reference: http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/hiring/affirmativeact.htm

State of California

CA Govt. Code Sec. 12950.1, requires California employers to provide supervisory employees with 2 hours of interactive sexual harassment training and education every 2 years. The requirement covers employers with 50 or more employees or contractors in any 20 consecutive weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. There is no requirement that the 50 employees or contractors work at the same location or that all work or reside in California. For more information: http://www.fehc.ca.gov/act/harass.asp

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2 Comments on "Hitting the Magic 50 Employee Mark – What do You Need to Think About? – Part 1"

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Ila Woolsey
Hi, I am new to working for a smaller company in the HR realm. We have plans to reach the 50 employee mark this year. I have been trying to find information on what is required of us legally once we hit that mark. I know we have to offer FMLA. I also know that we do not have to participate in the EEO-1 report until we hit 100. Other than that I am sort of hitting a brick wall on what the requirements are. I found this article but it seems to be from a few years ago. Do… Read more »

As a government contractor who just hired their 50th employee, how long do we have to get an affirmative action in place?