You may have heard about the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but may not understand the guidelines it offers to employees. Basically, employees that qualify under the act may receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave without putting their employment in jeopardy for the following reasons;
- Birth and care of newborn child
- Placing child for adoption or foster care
- Care of immediate family member, including the employee, for serious medical condition
For these reasons, an employee may take time off. The 12 weeks need not be consecutive and can be used in a 12-month period. This means to build up eligibility, you must go 12 months before using the full 12 weeks.
Complications that arise during pregnancy may be counted against the 12 weeks, so you may need to consult with your employer. You may be able to combine unpaid sick leave from your employer with FMLA depending on the circumstances of your illness.
One recent update to the FMLA regulations covers those with family leave entitlements under the national Defense Authorization Act. In other words, if you are entering military duty under this act, then you may qualify for FMLA leave.
You qualify under the FMLA laws if you and your company meet the following requirements;
- Employed at company for at least 12 months
- Have worked at least 1,250 hours
- Employer must have at least 50 employees who work within 75 miles of workplace
Keep in mind that the 12 months of employment need not be consecutive, however no more than 7 years can separate the times of being employed. For example, you may have worked 6 months for a company and then came back for another 6 months would qualify if the period in-between was no longer than 7 years.
The “50 and over” rule for employers does not apply to state and federal agencies. In fact, most, if not nearly all federal employees qualify under FMLA regardless of how many work in a single location. In addition, those in public and private elementary and secondary schools qualify under the act as well. So, if you are a state or federal employee, you will need to check to see if you qualify under FMLA.
Why Choose FMLA?
Most employers with 50 or more employees will usually have guidelines about the time that can be taken off from work. You will want to consult with your employer about the guidelines that they have available, then see if FMLA is a better solution for you. Keep in mind that you may be able to combine both in cases where you need to take off more time.
For example, if you suffer from a medical condition that requires more than 12 weeks off, you may be able to combine unpaid leave from your employer with the 12 weeks from FMLA regulations. However, you will need to clear it first so that you are protected and allowed back into the company.