December 20, 2019 Category: FMLA
A major concern for employees is whether they will lose their jobs if they have to miss a significant amount of work due to an injury or illness.
They may additionally worry about being fired if they need to care for a close family member who needs care or if their military spouse is deployed. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was created to help combat these situations and guarantee job security.
What is the FMLA?
The FMLA is a federal law that allows employees to take leave without losing their jobs. The purpose of the law is to cover qualifying employees so that they can take leave for certain family circumstances without fear of losing their jobs in the process.
To be eligible for these protections, both the employer and the employee must meet certain conditions that are outlined below.
Under the FMLA, an employee can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. This leave offers job protection and the employer must have an open position for the employee once the leave is over.
While the leave is not paid, the employee will still be eligible for company benefits like group health care. Additionally, any unused sick time or paid leave can be combined with FMLA leave to give the employee more time.
When the employee returns to work, they must be in a position that is identical or similar to the one they left. If the employee uses all of their entitled leave but can still not return to work as expected, the employer is no longer required to hold the job for the employee.
This means that the employee is no longer granted job security and someone else may be hired to fill the position.
Who can use the FMLA?
Only certain companies are covered by the FMLA. For private companies, any organization that has 50 or more employees is covered and must comply with all FMLA rules. However, companies with a smaller staff may still be covered by state or local family medical leave laws.
Regardless of the employee size, all public and government organizations are covered by the FMLA. This includes government agencies and public schools.
After you establish that your employer is covered by the FMLA, there are additional individual requirements that must be met. First, the employee needs to have worked at the company for at least 12 months. These months do not have to be consecutive.
Second, in general, you must have worked at least 24 hours a week for those 12 months. Finally, the work location must meet the 50-or-more employee rule within a 75-mile radius. If any of these are not met, then you do not qualify to take FMLA leave.
When can the FMLA be used?
The FMLA can be used for a variety of reasons including a serious health problem, expanding a family, or military family leave. For serious health problems, leave can be taken for an individual health issue or to help take care of a sick spouse, child, or parent.
FMLA leave will be granted to employees who are expanding their families. Both men and women can request this and it applies to natural-born children as well as adoptions. The leave must be taken within the first year of the child’s life or when the child joined the family.
FMLA military family leave is granted when a military family is going through a deployment of one of the parents. Additionally, if a service member is injured or has a serious illness, FMLA leave can be taken for up to 26 weeks to help care for the family member.
How do I request the FMLA?
The easiest way to start is to approach the company’s Human Resources and give them notice that FMLA leave is needed. You do not need to tell them every specific diagnosis, but you will need to provide enough information so they can verify that you qualify for FMLA leave. The employer should notify the requesting employee within five days if their leave is granted.
It is best to give the employer as much advanced notice as possible. Typically, it is required to give at least 30 days notice unless there is a true emergency. For example, if you know you need surgery and leave to recover, schedule the surgery for at least 30 days after you inform your employer that you need the time off.
The employer is allowed to request updates from the employee during the leave. They can also require medical certification to prove the injury or illness. The process will run smoothly if you keep open communication with your employer.
However, it is always important to remember that the company cannot punish or fire an employee for requesting or taking FMLA leave.