If you’re like many Americans, you work hard every day to earn enough money to support your family. But sometimes, your family needs you more than they need your paycheck. If you find yourself in a position where you need to take an extended break from work to care for yourself or a loved one, you might be protected under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
What is the FMLA?
The FMLA is a federal law that gives employees the right to take time off work to recover from a health condition or to care for a family member during a difficult time, among other considerations. Under this law, employees are guaranteed up to 12 weeks of leave each year without the threat of losing their job. Employees can take up to 26 weeks off for military caregiver leave.
It’s important to note that FMLA leave is unpaid. However, eligible employees are still entitled to receive their group health insurance benefits during their time off and may be able to use accrued paid vacation or sick time.
Who is eligible for the Family Medical Leave Act?
Not everyone is protected by the FMLA. In order to be eligible, you must work for a company that has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius. Additionally, you must have worked for your company for a minimum of a year, having clocked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months leading up to the date your leave will start. The FMLA covers the following conditions and circumstances:
- Leave for a serious health condition or a family member’s serious health condition, including but not limited to asthma, epilepsy, diabetes, stroke, cancer, or Alzheimer’s.
- Leave because you’re unable to work during pregnancy or to bond with a newborn, newly adopted child, or a recently placed foster child. With parental leave, time off must be taken within a year of a child’s arrival.
- Leave to care for a family member who became injured or ill while on active duty in the military. Leave is also available to care for veterans who have been out of the armed forces for less than five years.
How can I take advantage of the FMLA?
If you are an eligible employee and meet one or more of the conditions above, you can take advantage of the FMLA. In most cases, you’ll need to notify your employer at least 30 days in advance. Of course, if you need to take time off work for an unforeseeable reason, such as recovering from an auto accident, simply provide as much notice as reasonable for your situation.
Upon notifying your employer that you want to take leave, he or she will provide you with paperwork explaining your rights and obligations. Depending on the reason for taking FMLA leave, you may have to provide additional documents, such as a medical certification from your doctor or proof of a family relationship. Under the law, your employer must comply with your request to take FMLA leave and hold your position until you return.
Has your employer denied your request to take FMLA leave or refused to give you your job back?
When you’re finished with FMLA leave, you have a right to return to your former position or one that is equivalent in pay, job duties, shift, and schedule. If your employer refuses to give you your job back or denies your request for FMLA leave in the first place, you have a right to file a lawsuit.
At the Law Offices of Gerald D. Brody & Associates, our attorneys are experts on workers’ rights and know all of the intricacies of the complicated legal system. Allow us to review your case and assess whether you have a strong legal claim against your employer. If you do, you may be entitled to monetary damages related to your FMLA leave including back pay, attorney fees, and court costs.
Call us today at (619) 528-9800 to schedule your free, initial consultation. We look forward to serving you.