The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides for employees who need to take time off from work to care for their own medical needs or to provide care for a parent, a child or their spouse. It provides for up to 12 weeks of leave, either all at once or over a period of time, so that care can be provided.
Am I Eligible for FMLA Leave?
As a federal law, employers who are covered under FMLA are required to comply. Generally speaking, a private employer who has more than 50 employees is covered under the law, and all local, state and federal employees are covered as well as elementary and secondary school employees, regardless of the size of the agency or school staff.
You would be considered eligible for FMLA leave provided that you have worked for your employer for at least 12 months and you have worked for a minimum of 1250 hours within that 12 month period. There must also be 50 or more employees in a 75-mile radius of your job site. If you meet all of these conditions then you would qualify for the FMLA.
Under the FMLA you would be eligible for 12 weeks of leave, either at once or over an extended period of time. The leave is designed to cover serious health conditions (for you or a qualifying family member) that require overnight hospitalization, missing work for more than 3 consecutive days followed by ongoing treatment, chronic conditions that require treatment at least twice a year, or complications from pregnancy including bed rest, morning sickness and appointments.
Military leave is also covered under the FMLA and provides coverage for military deployments and up to 26 weeks of leave to care for covered service members who have been injured or dealing with an illness.
The FMLA also provides for men and women to take time to bond with a newborn child or newly adopted child. This leave must be taken at one time within a year of the child’s birth or the child’s placement, but employees have the option of taking the time intermittently if they agree to switching to a part-time work status for the duration of the leave.
When Does an Employer Violate FMLA?
Under the terms of the FMLA, employers are not able to prevent employees from requesting FMLA leave. You cannot be asked to reconsider taking time off, and you cannot be asked for additional notification.
If an employer is covered by the FMLA and the employee meets the qualifying conditions, there is nothing an employer can do to prevent you from taking advantage of the leave. Even if the timing is not ideal for the employer, they must still abide by the FMLA terms and conditions.
When planning for an upcoming medical event such as a birth, an adoption or a major surgery, employees should provide at least 30 days notice to employers that they will need to take time off through the FMLA. However, in most cases medical emergencies make it so that 30 days notice is not possible. Obviously this puts a strain on employees and employers alike, but under the FMLA guidelines an employer is required to accommodate requests when an employee is suddenly forced to take time off to care for a loved one or to deal with his or her own medical condition.
When taking FMLA leave, employees are required to continue to receive health insurance coverage (employees may need to continue paying for that coverage). While it is unpaid leave, employees can use accrued sick time or vacation time along with FMLA to continue to get paid.
In all of these cases, taking time off for FMLA leave cannot be used against you. Your employer cannot deny you the time off, nor can you be threatened with losing your job, deny you a promotion or having your job status changed as a result of taking the leave. If your employer is trying to prevent you from taking FMLA leave, is questioning your eligibility to use FMLA leave or is threatening you for asking to use it, then you might have an FMLA claim.
When To Contact An Employment Lawyer
If you are qualified for FMLA leave and are being denied FMLA leave by your employer, you should contact an employment lawyer who can help to determine what remedies are available to you. If nothing else, hiring an attorney will help ensure that your rights as an employee are being protected and that you are able to take the leave you need while also being assured that your job is not at risk. Fill out the Free Case Evaluation today!