For most people, family comes first. Unfortunately, when someone is sick or has other needs that require you to take time off work, it can be challenging. You may wonder if you can afford to take considerable time off work to take care of your family, particularly if your employer offers limited PTO or vacation time.
The answer is that it depends. Here’s what you should know about FMLA, or the Family Medical Leave Act.
What is FMLA leave?
The Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, is a federal law that provides employees in certain circumstances 12 weeks of unpaid time off to care for themselves or an ill family member. The law also stipulates the following:
- Employers must hold the employer’s job until they return. It is illegal to fire an employee for taking FMLA leave.
- Employers cannot retaliate against an employee for taking FMLA. This include demoting the employee to a new position, taking away job responsibilities, reducing the employee’s pay or benefits or any type of discipline when they return to work.
There are different scenarios that allow employees to utilize FMLA leave, with the below as a handful of examples:
- Military service
- Parental leave after giving birth, fostering or adopting a child
- Recovering from a surgical procedure that requires extensive rehabilitation or physical therapy
- Caring for a spouse, parent or child with a serious, ongoing health condition
Limitations on FMLA
There are certain requirements that must be met for an employee to qualify for FMLA leave. They must be on the job a minimum of 12 months and worked for at least 1,250 hours during that time.
Protecting your rights
Understanding your rights, what they are and how to qualify for them will ensure that your employer is being fair. If they deny you these rights, you have legal options.