What you need to know about the Family Medical Leave Act

Your child or your parent becomes ill and requires care. You need some time off from work. Now what?

You may be wondering if you can use your accrued sick leave to care for someone else.

Or perhaps you don’t have any accrued leave to use in the first place … and you’re wondering if there are still options for taking time off.

With the added strain of caring for a family member, the last thing you need to worry about is your job security.

Let’s talk about your rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

What is the FMLA?

The FMLA is a federal labor law that provides job protection for certain employees who need to take leave for qualified medical or family reasons. (We’ll discuss those reasons in more detail below).

Employees who are eligible may take up to 12 weeks of leave and must be allowed to retain any company-provided health benefits during that time.

Upon returning to work, employees must be returned to their regular positions, or to positions that are equivalent in compensation, job duties, and opportunities for advancement.

Which employers have to comply with the FMLA?

Employers that must comply with the FMLA are generally called “covered employers.” There are three types of covered employers under the FMLA:

  1. Private-sector employers that have 50 or more employees who work within a 75-mile radius of the worksite, and who have worked 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year. This may include joint employers.
  2. Public agencies, including local, state, or federal government agencies, regardless of the number of employees, and
  3. Public or private elementary or secondary schools, regardless of the number of employees.

Who qualifies for FMLA?

To qualify for FMLA leave, you must:

  • Work for a covered employer, and
  • Have been employed with the company or agency for 12 months, working at least 1,250 hours during the 12 month-period prior to the start of leave.

When can you take FMLA leave?

You may only take FMLA for certain reasons. Those include:

  • Parental leave, including the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth.
  • Parental leave after the adoption of a child, or after becoming a foster parent, within one year of placement.
  • To care for a spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition.
  • To seek treatment or to recover from a serious health condition that makes you unable to perform the essential functions of your job.
  • Any urgent need related to a spouse, son, daughter, or parent who is a military member on active duty.

Do you get paid while on FMLA leave?

Employers are not required to compensate you during time off for FMLA.

However, some may allow you or require you to use any accrued paid leave at the start of your leave period. It’s a good idea to consult your employee handbook or speak to your human resources representative to find out.

How long can you take FMLA leave?

In general, you may take no longer than 12 weeks of FMLA leave during a one-year period. However, you may divide that leave into several periods, which is referred to intermittent leave. You may also use intermittent leave on a partial-day basis. For example, if you have to attend therapy appointments one morning per week, you may be able to use intermittent leave.

If you need to leave to care for a covered military servicemember who has a serious illness or injury, you may be entitled to up to 26 weeks of FMLA leave. The servicemember must be a spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin.

What to do if you been unfairly denied FMLA leave

If you believe that you’ve been denied FMLA leave, or that you’ve been penalized for taking it, it’s a good idea to speak to an employment law attorney about your rights.

Email us at murphy@phillyemploymentlawyer.com, or call (267) 273-1054 for a free consultation.