Personal and family medical issues often occur unexpectedly and can require round-the-clock care from dedicated family members. When this happens, one of an employee’s first concerns is job stability – particularly given the mounting medical bills that often accompany a sudden illness or injury. Fortunately, lawmakers passed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in 1993 to protect workers from termination or demotion when they require leave for childbirth, severe injuries, or long-term illness.
What is the FMLA and what does it do?
The FMLA provides job security and benefits stability to workers who are facing personal or family medical issues. An employer must hold an employee’s job for 12 weeks if he or she needs to take time off for a qualifying medical reason. If the employer needed to fill the employee’s position during her absence, the employer must offer the employee the same job or an equivalent job upon his or her return. Under the current law, any of the following events trigger FMLA coverage:
- The birth, adoption, or fostering of a child
- Care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition. Under the FMLA, “immediate family member” includes spouse, child, or parent. “In-laws” are not included.
- Certain exigencies associated with an immediate family member in the Armed Forces
- Personal serious health condition
What is a serious health condition?
The FMLA definition of a serious health condition can be extremely complex, and you should contact an experienced FMLA lawyer if there is any question about whether your condition qualifies.
Some examples of a serious health condition include:
- A chronic condition requiring treatment at least twice a year
- Pregnancy (including prenatal care, severe morning sickness, doctor–mandated bed rest, or recovery)
- Any condition requiring an overnight stay in a hospital or medical care facility
Are all employers required to adhere to the FMLA?
No. In its current form, the FMLA applies to all public sector jobs – including municipal, state, and federal workers – and certain private sector businesses. More specifically, a private sector business need only adhere to the FMLA if it employs 50 or more employees for at least 20 weeks out of the year and within a radius of 75 miles of the company’s location.
Does the FMLA apply to new employees?
The FMLA does not apply to new employees. Under the guidelines, an employer is not required to offer FMLA leave to any employee unless he or she has worked for the employer for a minimum of 12 months, although the 12 months need not be consecutive. The employee must also have worked a total of 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to requesting leave.
Contact an FMLA attorney today
If you have additional questions about your rights under the FMLA, call Robert A. Klingler Co., L.P.A. at 513-665-9500 or fill out our online contact form today.