There may come a time where you need to take time away from work to handle health challenges. One of the federal laws that allows employees to take leave without negative consequences for certain medical reasons is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Learn the basic facts about FMLA to understand your rights.
1. What does FMLA cover?
Employees are available to take time off under FMLA for the following reasons:
- Recovering from a serious health condition
- Caring for a family member who has a serious health condition
- Bonding with a newborn baby or newly fostered or adopted child
- Handling qualifying activities regarding military active duty of a family member
- Caring for a family member who is a veteran or current member of the military who has a serious illness or injury
Employers must adhere to the FMLA if they employ 50 or more employees for 20 weeks in the previous or current year.
2. Am I eligible?
You may qualify for FMLA leave under the following circumstances:
- You have worked for your current company for a year or more.
- You have worked 1,250 hours or more during the past year.
- You have worked at a location with 50 employees or more within a radius of 75 miles.
If you meet the above requirements, you are eligible for FMLA unless you have already used your 12-week entitlement.
3. How much time off is available?
Employees are able to take 12 workweeks off within a 12-month period in cases of serious health conditions, caring for a new child, or qualifying activities. In the cases of taking time off to be a military caregiver, employees can be eligible for 26 weeks of time off within a 12-month period.
4. What are my rights?
As an employee, you are entitled to keep your health coverage during your time off at the price you normally pay. Even though leave through FMLA is unpaid, employees are sometimes allowed or even required to use accrued paid leave simultaneously. When your FMLA leave ends, your employer is required to reinstate you to the same position or one of equal value, with certain exceptions.
You should speak with your manager or HR department if you feel you need to take FMLA leave. If you have encountered problems with the FMLA process, you may need professional and trusted legal assistance. Contact an attorney with experience in employee law to resolve complications or potential violations of your FMLA leave.