According to the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act, employers who meet certain conditions must allow their employees to take unpaid leave for a majority of family and medical purposes. With FMLA, you may be eligible for up to 12 to 26 weeks of this leave, depending on the reason. FMLA sets specific rules and regulations that both you and your employer must follow when you request time off.
Employers must follow the FMLA rules if they employ more than 50 employees within 75 miles. All businesses must comply -- whether they’re in the private sector, a public agency, or a public or private elementary or secondary school. You can request FMLA leave if you’ve been working with the same employer for at least 12 months and have clocked at least 1,250 hours of work in these months. Certain states might have their own FMLA laws and employers in these states have to comply with them.
If you request a leave, your employer must inform you if you’re eligible for FMLA. They also must give you information about your rights and responsibilities. If you aren’t eligible, your employer should tell you why, and the reasons need to be specific. If FMLA covers your leave, your employer must also let you know how much time it allows you to take in your particular instance.
Returning from Leave
When you return from FMLA leave, your job should be waiting for you. If not, your employer must give you a similar job with equivalent pay along with the perks or benefits that were provided with the position you held before you left. While on FMLA leave, your employer must make sure that you remain covered by the group health insurance plan with the same terms and conditions that you had when you were working. Whatever benefits you accrued before you left should remain yours when you return.
Taking leave for family and medical reasons is your right, and your employer can’t interfere with or prevent you from taking this leave. Furthermore, if you need to take FMLA leave, your employer can’t fire or discriminate against you because of it. It’s also within your rights to file a lawsuit against your employer if they try in any way to prevent you from making use of FMLA. If there are other state or federal laws in place regarding discrimination or family leave, FMLA doesn’t restrict those laws.
The Department of Labor issues a poster that contains a summary of the main provisions of FMLA. If you need to file a complaint, refer to the poster because it tells you exactly what to do. This poster should be easy to find because employers are instructed to place it in the workplace where everyone can see it -- including job applicants. Even if there aren’t any eligible employees working in the company, employers still need to display the poster. Employers can also post the information electronically as long as they conform to the required rules and regulations, which means that everyone must have access to the electronic posting.
- U.S. Department of Labor: Family and Medical Leave Act
- U.S. Department of Labor: Employee Rights And Responsibilities Under The Family And Medical Leave Act
- U.S. Department of Labor: Employer Notification Requirements under the Family and Medical Leave Act
- Society for Human Resource Management: DOL Releases New FMLA Model Forms and Notice Poster