Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

What is the Family Medical Leave Act?

Created in 1993, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows an employee from a large company to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave to care for their spouse, children, or other family member dealing with a serious medical condition. The FMLA was created to provide a sense of security to employees dealing with urgent family matters without the repercussions of losing their job. While the FMLA does not offer compensation to employees during a leave of absence, it does allow the employee to spend time with a family member in need of help. However, the FMLA does not apply to everyone. Those who may be eligible for the FMLA include: 1) workers of a company with 50 or more workers; and 2) those who have been employed for at least twelve months and have worked for at least a total of 1,250 hours in the last year.

What Is a Serious Health Condition under FMLA?

Although an employee may be eligible by meeting the two factors listed above, there must also be a serious health condition with the employee or family member of the employee in order to take a leave of absence under FMLA. What qualifies as a serious health condition? FMLA considers any illness, injury, physical or mental impairment that requires inpatient care in the hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility or continuing treatment from a health care provider. If the employee has the serious health condition, it must be one that will not allow him or her to perform the duties on the job.

Will an Employee Have the Same Job After Returning?

Upon returning from a leave of absence, an employer must return the employee to the same or equal position with both equal pay and benefits. However, there are some situations where an employee may not be able to return to the same position. If the employer completely eliminated the position while the employee was gone, the employee does not have a right to return to the position. In addition, salaried employees or other key figures do not have the right to return to the position if a “substantial and grievous injury” would result to the employer.

What Should an Employee Tell the Employer Before Going on Leave?

If the employee knows about the possibility of taking a leave of absence, the employee must provide give 30 days notice to the employer. If the employee does not know about the need for leave, the employee must inform the employer by the end of the next workday. Upon informing the employer, the employer should provide the employee with his or her rights pertaining to the leave. These rights may include whether the employee is eligible or not for FMLA leave. An employer may then request that the employee complete a Certificate of Health Care provider form. This certificate should include: 1) the date the condition began, 2) probable duration, 3) facts regarding the condition, and 4) whether the worker needs to help a sick or injured family member or relative of someone serving in the military.

If you feel that your FMLA rights have been violated, our experienced FMLA attorneys will be happy to address any concerns that you may have. Contact The Higgins Firm for your FMLA needs.