Sometimes life happens, and an employee has to make a choice between their work and their health, the health of a loved one, or the birth of a child. The Family & Medical Leave Act, or the “FMLA,” allows for eligible employees to take unpaid leave without fear of losing a job, being demoted, or suffering other adverse consequences.
How Does the FMLA Work?
Generally speaking, an eligible employee is working for a covered employer is entitled to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave in a 12 month period for one or more of the following reasons:
- the birth or adoption of a child by the employee;
- a serious health condition that renders the employee unable to perform the essential functions of the job;
- to care for a spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition; or
- issues arising out of a spouse, child, or parent’s active duty membership in the Armed Forces.
A covered employer is (1) a private employer with at least 50 employees; (2) a public or government agency without regard to the number of employees; or (3) a public or private elementary or secondary school without regard to the number of employees.
An eligible employee is one who (1) works for a covered employer; (2) for at least 12 months; (3) has worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 month period prior to the leave; and (4) works at a location where there are at least 50 employees within 75 miles.
When requesting leave, an employee must give the employer notice of the intent to take leave. While the general rule is for 30 days notice, where the employee cannot foresee the need for leave that far in advance, the employee must notify the employer as soon as is possible and practical under the circumstances. An employer may request documentation supporting the need for leave from the employee’s health care provider. While on leave, the employer must continue any health insurance benefits the employee was enrolled in.
Upon return from the leave, the employee must be restored to the original position or to an equivalent position with equivalent pay, benefits, and terms and conditions of employment. Additionally, an employer is not allowed to interfere with a covered employee’s attempt to take FMLA leave, and may not retaliate against an employee for taking or attempting to take FMLA leave.
If you have questions about whether your employer has interfered with your rights under the FMLA, contact us for a free initial consultation.