One thing the HR administrator has to face a lot of times is the requests for leaves of absence. The FMLA or the federal Family and Medical Leave Act comes to rescue. When you or a loved one experiences a serious health condition, worrying about keeping your job can double the tension. You might need to take a leave all at once, or intermittently as the medical condition requires. The FMLA provides unpaid, job-protected leave.
Who is the FMLA for?
Generally, private employers with at least 50 employees can be covered by the law. Private employers with fewer employees might be covered by state family and medical leave laws. Government agencies and elementary and secondary schools also can benefit from the law, regardless of the number of employees. But not everyone who works for a covered employer is eligible. To be eligible, you must:
- Have worked for the employer for 12 months in a row
- Work at a location where your employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles of your worksite
- Have worked for the employer for at least 1250 hours in the 12 months before you take leave
Note* that flight attendants and flight crew members are exempt from these rules due to their non-traditional work schedules.
When to use FMLA leave?
Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave in any 12-month period. People can actually have a variety of reasons to take this leave. And those reasons are:
Serious health condition
If you or your spouse, child, parent has a serious health condition and is unable to work. Usually, those are conditions that require an overnight stay in a hospital and intensive medical care. Another scenario is when the health condition incapacitates a person for three consecutive days and requires ongoing medical care. Chronic conditions that cause occasional periods of incapacitation and that require medical treatment at least twice a year also count. Pregnancy is also among these health conditions.
Military family leave
Certain military family leave entitlements are provided. One example is when you need to take care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness.
When expanding a family, one needs time for the birth of the child and to bond with the newborn. The same need arises when adopting a child. Hence, men and women have an equal right to take FMLA leave to bond with their child.
Note* that this kind of FMLA leave must be taken within one year of the child’s birth and must be taken as a continuous block of leave unless otherwise agreed with the employer.
When do I need legal help?
Though the law states the eligibility criteria for the FMLA leave quite clearly, there can still be employers who violate or misinterpret it. For example, some employers might fail to recognize a serious health condition. Others might simply fail to recognize the employee notice. Disciplining or firing employees for taking leave is another unreasonable step that some employers can take. There are tons of other employer violations that employees can suffer from.
If you feel your employee rights have been violated, collect all the data and documents that tell your story and turn to an employment law lawyer. Bringing a lawyer in to help you negotiate your FMLA leave right at the time when you are facing an emergency can be the best option. Why wait until someone tries to violate your rights? The serious health condition you or a loved one might be facing is enough stress. Do not let another one break into your life.