How much do you know about taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)? Most people in the working world understand that the FMLA exists and that it protects employees against dismissal for certain medical and family emergencies and conditions. But there are a few things you might not already know about FMLA that could help you in a case against your employer.
FMLA Doesn’t Cover Everything
Not all employees are covered by the FMLA. Likewise, not all employers are subject to it. If your employer has 50 employees within 75 miles of your work location, then they are required to provide 12 weeks of FMLA leave for qualifying employees.
So, who counts as a qualifying employee? If you’ve worked for a minimum of 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours over the last 12 months and your employer is subject to FMLA, then you qualify for leave.
Remember, though, that not all medical conditions and family emergencies are covered. For example, you cannot use the FMLA to go to a funeral or visit a family member with a serious health condition. You can, however, use it to take time off to care for a newborn, foster child, or adopted child. You can also use the FMLA if it is necessary for you to care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious medical condition. You can also take time for your own serious health condition.
FMLA Doesn’t Have to Be Paid Time
While your employer cannot terminate your employment (except under very specific circumstances) during qualified FMLA leave, they are not required to pay you for the time you’re on leave. You can, however, use accrued leave time during your FMLA time, and your employer can require you to use your paid leave time during your FMLA leave, as well.
Your Employer Doesn’t Have to Give You Back Your Old Role
This detail of the FMLA surprises a lot of people. If you take leave for family or medical reasons, your employer is required to either allow you to return to your former role or provide a very similar role for you upon your return. Thus, if your employer reorganized management roles to accommodate your leave, they may not move everyone back to their original positions when you come back. Instead, they may put you in a different but very similar role to your former duties.
Your Employer Cannot Ask You to Come Back Before Your Leave is Over
Under the FMLA, you are entitled to 12 weeks of leave for qualified reasons. You do not have to take the whole 12 weeks, but your employer may not require you to return before your leave is finished. If they make any threats to your position if you do not return to work, they’re acting illegally and can be held accountable.
You Don’t Have to Take all Your FMLA Leave at Once
Along the same lines, you don’t have to take all 12 weeks of FMLA leave at once. You can take intermittent leave. For example, if you’re taking leave for treatment of an ongoing condition, you might take four weeks now and save the other eight weeks for later treatments or even work part-time, if it’s medically necessary.
If you have questions about the complexities of FMLA or you believe that your employer has violated your rights, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Ben Barrett Law at (404)845-7449 today.