The Family Medical Leave Act gives you certain protections — subject to qualifications and limits.
If you’re like many Americans, you have likely heard of the Family Medical Leave Act (commonly called FMLA), but may not understand what the law is — or how it does and does not protect you as an employee.
FMLA is a federal law that was enacted to help employees balance their work and family obligations. At its core, the law allows employees to take leave to care for family members or to recover from a serious illness or injury. While the coverage under this law is broad, not every employer is required to comply with this law — and not every employee is protected. Here is what you need to know about FLMA as an employee.
Not Every Employer or Employee Is Covered
Employers are only required to comply with the provisions of FMLA only if they had at least 50 employees for at least 20 weeks in either the current year or the previous year. This means that smaller employers do not have to follow this law. Nonetheless, they may provide similar leave under a state law.
Even if your employer is required to offer FMLA, you may not be covered under the law. To be eligible for FMLA, an employee must have worked for at least a year and at least 1,250 hours during the prior year for his or her employer.
Leave Is Limited & Unpaid
FMLA cannot be used for any reason; it can only be utilized by employees for very specific reason. This includes if you have a serious health condition, to care for a family member who is ill or injured, or to spend time with a new child. Some military family leave is also covered under FMLA, such as leave to deal with the practical matters associated with a family member being called to active duty.
Employees can take up to 12 weeks off per calendar year, or up to 26 weeks to care for a family member who suffered an injury or illness while on active duty in the military. Importantly, this type of leave isn’t renewable; it can only be used once per family member or injury. While employees can used occurred sick or paid leave to be paid during this leave, as a general rule, FMLA leave is unpaid.
When taking leave, you do not have to use it all at once; it can be taken a few hours or days at a time, or for longer periods of time. This may be necessary to take a family member to doctor’s appointments or for medical treatment, or in other situations where you do not need to take the full 12 weeks or leave at once.
Employees Must Comply With Notice & Paperwork
Whenever possible, employees must provide notice to their employer about their planned leave. Thirty days’ notice is required if the need for leave is foreseeable (such as a planned surgical procedure), but if it comes up suddenly, you must give as much notice as practicable.
In addition to providing notice, you must also provide medical certification if your employer asks you to do so. This could be from the medical facility or doctor who is treating you or your family member. If you are asked to provide certification, you will likely have to return it within 15 days.
You Have Certain Rights Under FMLA
While you are on leave, you are allowed to stay on your employer’s health insurance, although you may be required to pay your share of the premium. Your employer must also reinstate you to the same or a similar position when you return to work, with a few exceptions.
If you believe that your employer has violated your rights under FMLA, contact PLBSH today at (800) 435-7542 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We are experienced, compassionate employment law attorneys who will fight to make sure that your legal rights are protected.