Workplace Rights

Weekly (3/11/19)

Topic of the Week  Family Medical Leave Act - What does it provide and are you protected?

  • Are you and your employer covered under the FMLA?
  • What does the FMLA provide?


Do I qualify for protection under the FMLA?

Not everyone is protected by the FMLA. Both you and your employer must meet certain qualifications.

Employer requirements: your employer must have 50 or more employees on the payroll for 20 work weeks during the current or preceding calendar year. Employees who work for your employer within a 75-mile radius of your worksite count toward the 50-employee total.

  • To determine whether your employer is covered, find out how many employees are on the payroll, including those on leave and working part-time.
  • If your location does not have 50 employees, find out whether your company has other employees at locations within a 75-mile radius.

Employee requirements: you must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months and for at least 1,250 hours during the period immediately preceding the commencement of the leave.

  • If you worked 25 or more hours for 50 weeks in a year, you would have worked the required total of 1,250 hours. Only actual time worked counts; other time for which you are paid, such as vacation, holidays and sick leave, does not count towards the required 1,250-hour total.
  • The 12 months an employee must have been employed by the employer need not be consecutive months. The break in employment can be no more than 7 years unless the break is due to military service obligation or according to a previous written agreement with the employer.

While certain exceptions exist, most employees who meet these two conditions will qualify for leave under the federal FMLA. Your state may have different requirements for coverage under state law.

I would like to take family or medical leave. What does the law allow?

Under federal law and some state laws, certain employees have the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year (any 12-month period) for the following reasons:

  • you have a serious health condition that keeps you from doing your job;
  • you need to care for a sick child, spouse, or parent with a serious health condition;
  • you need to care for a newborn child, newly adopted child, or foster child.
  • you have a family member who is a covered military member on active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in support of a contingency operation and need time to manage their affairs

In addition, certain eligible employees have the right to take up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave per year (any 12-month period) to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty on active duty. If you are eligible, you may take family leave (leave to care for someone in your family) or medical leave (leave to seek care for or recover from your own serious health condition) without losing your job.

Under the law, your job is protected during your leave. When you return to work, your employer must give you either the same job you had before your leave, or a position with equivalent benefits, pay, working conditions, and seniority. Your employer must continue to pay for your health insurance coverage during your leave as it normally would have during your employment.

If you qualify for a family or medical leave, you have the right to take that leave free from harassment or discrimination. Your employer cannot interfere with your right to take leave, discriminate against you for requesting information about your rights, or discriminate against you for taking a leave.

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Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

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