What Every Employee Needs to Know About FMLA

The federal mandate, known as the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, helps bridge workers’ employment and health needs for the individual and their family. Lawmakers designed this legislation to require employers to allow their employees to take a leave from work to care for sick family members or take the necessary time they need to recover from a serious injury or illness. However, there are important limitations to this law that people should know. The rest of this post will highlight the most crucial parts of this law, so you are ready if you or a loved one has a serious need that occurs. 

  1. Not All Employers are Covered - Employers must have at least 50 employees for 20 weeks in the current or previous year to be required to comply with FMLA. Smaller organizations are exempt, although there may be a state law the helps fill in the gap. 

  2. Not All Employees are Covered - Time to get specific. An individual employee must have worked for the company for at least one year and at least 1,250 hours during the prior year. The employee must also work at a location with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius.

  3. FMLA Time Off is Unpaid - Employees may use their vacation or sick days to receive payment. However, the law does not force an employer to give pay during FMLA leave. 

  4. Leave Must be for Specific Reasons - The only reasons an employee can take FMLA leave is for their own serious health risk, to assist a family member with their serious health risk, or to spend time with a newborn child. The law also has provisions for military family leave. A family member may help with the circumstances that come when the government calls their loved one to active duty or if their loved one suffers an injury while in the line of duty. 

  5. Time Limitations on FMLA Leave - Regular employees can take up to 12 weeks off per year in most cases. Employees assisting a family member injured during military duty may take up to 26 weeks off in one 12-month timeframe per injury. 

  6. Required Documentation - Employees should give notice as soon as they become aware they will need to take a leave, 30 days ahead of time is best, but within days of learning about the issue is satisfactory. An employer may ask for medical certification from a healthcare provider.

  7. Reinstatement on Return - Upon returning to work, your employer must bring you back on in your past or an equivalent position. However, for employees earning within the top ten percent at the company, there is an exception. In this case, the employer must inform the employee before their leave.

With these facts in mind, you should be better prepared to work through the leave-taking process. Here at Pitt, McGehee, Palmer, & Rivers, we are ready to defend workers’ rights, so they get fair treatment under the law. To speak with a legal professional regarding your leave, give us a call at (248) 939-5081.

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