The Family and Medical Leave Act is a United States law passed in 1993 which requires many employers to give unpaid, job-protected leave to employees dealing with medical or family issues. The law applies to private employers with over 50 employees as well as public agencies. Employees who have worked for more than 12 months for a business subject to FMLA may be entitled to leave if they belong to one of the following groups.
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Workers with Health Conditions
Suppose you’re living with an injury, illness, disability or another health issue that causes you to be unable to complete the essential functions of your job. In this case, you may qualify for FMLA leave. An employee who qualifies for FMLA can take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave and still retain their job position and health care benefits. Most employers will require documentation of the health issue from a licensed medical provider, so be sure to request this from your health care provider if you seek FMLA leave. Leave can be taken intermittently or all at once. In some cases, the employee may work out a reduced schedule with the employer.
Caregivers for Family Members
FMLA also requires employers to give protected leave to employees who are caregivers for immediate family members with health conditions. Spouses, children and parents all qualify as immediate family. Employees often will need to provide documentation from a medical provider attesting to their loved one’s condition. In a majority of cases, the employee will qualify for up to 12 workweeks of FMLA leave. However, if the immediate family member with care needs is a service member with a severe illness or injury, the employee caregiver may use up to 26 weeks of leave in a 12 month period.
New Parents and Foster Parents
New parents are also entitled to FMLA leave. An employee who has a child can take up to 12 workweeks of job-protected leave within a year of the child’s birth. FMLA also covers adoptive and foster parents who are entitled to up to 12 workweeks of leave. Employers who offer paid maternity or paternity leave can choose to count that leave as part of the allowed 12 weeks of parental leave covered by FMLA. However, some may elect to offer additional unpaid leave. In general, FMLA leave for parents is taken all at once rather than intermittently; however, some employers may be open to reduced schedules or intermittent leave.
Consult with an employment lawyer today if you have questions about your rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act.