One of the most common reasons people request leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is for the birth of a child. But many people may not realize that FMLA protections extend to other family medical situations.
A qualified employee can take unpaid time off for the adoption of a child, to care for a family member, because of the employee’s serious medical condition, or for qualifying circumstances arising from a family member’s active duty military service. Unpaid time-off under the FMLA does not need to be taken at one time and, in certain circumstances can be used intermittently.
Qualifying employees may take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12 month period. During that time the employee’s job must be protected and the employee’s group health benefits must be maintained.
The FMLA is intended to help employees balance work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for family and medical reasons, while accommodating the legitimate interests of employers and to promote equal employment for men and women.
Employees of public agencies, public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees are all covered by the FMLA. Employers must provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12 month period for any of the following reasons:
An employee is eligible for FMLA leave if they have worked at least 12 months for their employer, at least 1,250 hours over the last 12 months, and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles.
The employee’s 12 months of employment do not need to be consecutive. This means that any time worked for the same employer within the past 7 years, including seasonal work, can be used to meet the 12-month requirement.
In many circumstances an employee can take intermittent FMLA leave. This means that the employee could take leave in separate blocks of time, or by reducing the time he or she works every day. Intermittent leave usually requires an employer’s approval. For example, an employee may need to take a reduced schedule to care for a child with special needs, or for an ailing parent or spouse.
An employee returning from FMLA leave must be restored to his or her original job or an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.
An employer cannot punish an employee for using benefits under the FMLA. Likewise, it is unlawful for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or deny an employee the right to exercise or attempt to exercise any benefit provided under the FMLA, or to discharge or discriminate against an employee because of involvement in any proceeding related to the FMLA.
If you have questions about the FMLA or believe your rights have been violated, contact the experienced employment discrimination attorneys at Brady & Associates today.