The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is one of the most important pieces of legislation protecting American workers today. The FMLA can be confusing and difficult to digest; therefore, we’ve created a quick guide explaining how the FMLA helps workers like you:
1. 12 Workweeks of Unpaid Leave:
According to the United States Department of Labor, all eligible employees are guaranteed up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave every year for a valid medical reason pertaining to themselves or to an immediate family member.
- According to this legislation, “immediate family” is defined as parents, spouses, and children. Some states allow for “immediate family” to include domestic partners, parents-in-law, siblings, and grandparents.
- Medical reasons include, but are not limited to, birth or adoption of a child, illnesses or illnesses requiring rehabilitation, surgeries, etc.
2. The FMLA Applies To:
- Businesses in the public sector, including local, state, and federal employees.
- Businesses in the private sector employing 50 or more employees, located within 75 miles of the business’s location, who are employed by the business for at least 20 workweeks out of the year.
3. Additional Requirements:
Just because your employer is covered by the FMLA does not mean you, as an individual employee, are necessarily covered. In addition to the criteria stated above, you must have worked for at least 12 months prior to submitting a request for medical leave. During those 12 months, you must have worked for at least 1,250 hours.
4. The purpose of the FMLA is two-fold. According to the Department of Labor, the purpose of the law is:
- “To balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of families, to promote the stability and economic security of families, and to promote national interests in preserving family integrity;
- “To entitle employees to take reasonable leave for medical reasons, for the birth or adoption of a child, and for the care of a child, spouse, or parent who has a serious health condition.”
5. Using Paid Leave First:
Your employer might require you use your paid leave before using medical leave under the FMLA, and this is completely legal. If your employer does not require you to do this, it might still be in your best interest to do so, especially if you have several days of paid leave saved up.
6. Proof of Medical Condition:
It is also completely legal for your employer to request to see proof of your medical condition or proof of your family member’s medical condition. This can be a sensitive issue, but employers maintain the right to obtain this information. However, your employer is required by law to keep this information private.
7. Returning To Work:
When you return from your medical leave, the FMLA states that a job must be available for you. However, this job does not have to be the same one you previously held. After all, a company may not be able to operate if an essential employee is out for 12 weeks. Nevertheless, you must be given a job upon your return with equivalent pay, benefits, and all other terms and conditions applied to your previous position.
If you or a close family member is dealing with a serious medical condition, it’s important to know your job may be protected under federal law if you choose to take time off due to the condition. Contact the employment attorneys at Robert A. Klingler Co., L.P.A. for more information about how the FMLA applies to you.
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- What should I do if my FMLA is over and I’m not ready to return to work?
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