The Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, provides you with the right to take time away from work to care for yourself and/or family members and/or to deal with medical issues for yourself or a family member. What are the conditions under which you may take FMLA leave and how can you arrange it with your employer?
According to the federal FMLA legislation, your employer must have 50 or more employees to be required to provide FMLA leave and you must be employed by your company for 12 months to be eligible to participate.
Basic FMLA Provisions
The Family and Medical Leave Act is fairly recent legislation, guaranteeing employees job security while they take necessary time away from work. FMLA leave is not intended for people who want a vacation and can’t be used as such.
You are eligible to use FMLA Leave in the following situations:
- You need to care for an adopted child, or a foster child any time during the first year you have that child.
- Maternity leave to have a baby and/or care for a baby.
- To care for a family member that is sick
- To care for yourself if you’re sick
- To care for a sick our injured member of your family who is in the military.
Employers and FMLA
According to the federal FMLA only employers with 50 or more employees are required by law to provide FMLA leave. The federal FMLA is strictly enforced and all applicable employers are required to visibly post the Employees Rights and Responsibilities Under the Family and Medical Leave Act poster. This document outlines all your rights, responsibilities, and the terms under which you may arrange FMLA leave from your job. These include:
- Your employer is not required to pay you while you are on FMLA leave, but you may be able to use some of your paid time off (PTO) depending on your employer.
- Your health insurance is protected while you are on FMLA leave.
- In many cases you will return to your same job position, but your employer is not necessarily required to return you to the same position you held, but only to ensure you have one similar to it.
Arranging for Family and Medical Leave
Under the federal FML program you are allowed a certain amount of time for FMLA leave. Scheduling your time off:
- You must give your employer 30 days notice if your leave is planned. If you have an unforeseen emergency, you need to let them know ASAP.
- If your leave is not eligible under FMLA, your employer is required to inform you.
- It’s against the law for your employer to interfere with your right to family and medical leave.
Additional FMLA Protection and Rights
Besides the federal DOL legislation, state FMLA laws may give you extra leave, protection, or additional rights. In cases where the state FMLA differs from the federal worker protections, your state’s labor department will offer guidance on how the two should work together.
Learn more about the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/ ) from the Department of Labor.