Every employee worries about what will happen if they fall ill or need medical treatment. Will their employer understand the situation and allow them time off or could they lose their job due to a serious health issue? This article looks at the main federal law that protects many workers in these situations: The Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA.
What Is It?
The FMLA is a federal law passed by the United States Congress in 1993 that guarantees the legal right of employees to take time off from work for health or family-related reasons without repercussions, such as being fired or receiving a demotion. The law is overseen by the Department of Labor and covers many workers in both public and private employment.
Not all employers are covered by the law. The FMLA generally applies to companies or persons who have 50 or more employees working each day for at least 20 weeks out of the year. A critical exception to this rule is that public agencies must abide by the FMLA no matter how many workers they employ.
You must meet certain conditions to take advantage of the protections of the FMLA. The required 50 employees a day must be within a 75-mile radius of your worksite. For example, if your employer has thousands of employees with many different locations, but you work at a distant office that has less than 50 workers, you would not be covered by the law.
Another eligibility requirement is that you must have worked for the company for at least 12 months and put in at least 1,250 hours during the last 12 months. The 1,250 hours over 12 months is about 24 hours per week.
To obtain leave under the FMLA, the reason for the leave must be covered by the law. You may leave for a variety of health conditions that affect you personally. You may also obtain the leave to care for a sick family member, specifically a parent, spouse or child. Another qualifying reason is to bond with a child during the first year of the baby's life. Also, if a family member is in the Armed Services and is deployed to active duty, you may ask for leave to deal with matters relating to the deployment.
To learn more about the FMLA law, consult an experienced medical leave attorney to ensure you are treated fairly.