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Understanding the Basics of the Family and Medical Leave Act


Imagine this scenario: your father has suddenly fallen gravely ill. He has trouble completing basic daily tasks and you believe he cannot adequately care for himself. You want to take time off work to help take care of him but you are unsure what your rights are and whether you will still be able to keep your employment if you take time off. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 outlines rights of certain employees and their families facing these situations.

What Does the FMLA Provide?

The FMLA provides that you may take off work for up to 12 weeks over a 12-month period of time. The 12 weeks off covers employees who are receiving care for their own serious health condition, employees who take time off to take care of an immediate family member, or for “birth and bonding” purposes. There are several important definitions to consider for these three categories. First, your employer will likely ask for proof of the “serious health condition.” Your employer is entitled to ask for proof and if they do, you will have to get a certification from a health care provider in support of your condition within fifteen days. Second, an “immediate family member” is categorized as parents, spouses, and children. Finally, the Department of Labor defines “birth and bonding” as an extended parental leave for purposes of birthing or adopting with a child or bonding with a foster child.

What Employees Are Eligible for FMLA Leave?

In order to be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must have worked for their employer for at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months before requesting the leave. If you work for eight hours a day, 1,250 hours divides out to approximately 156 8-hour work days in 12 months.

Employers Subject to the FMLA

In order for an employer to be eligible to allow you to take FMLA leave, your employer must have at least 50 employees who are located within 75 miles of the employer’s location.

Using Paid Leave Prior to Exercising FMLA Leave

Before you exercise your FMLA leave, you will want to check with your human resources department to determine whether you will need to first use your paid leave days prior to exercising FMLA leave.

“Guaranteed Job”

It is important to note that although your employer is required to have a job for you to return back to after FMLA leave, the Department of Labor merely requires that an employee “must be restored to the employee’s original job or to an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.” This means employers have some wiggle room to change your job title a bit to fit their needs.

Extended Time to Care for Member of Military

The FMLA provides for different periods for caring for military service members with serious health conditions. Specifically, the FMLA states that an employee may take up to 26 weeks off in a 12-month period to care for a military member with a serious health condition. In order to qualify for this specific form of leave, you must prove you are the military member’s spouse, parent, child, or nearest blood relative who has been granted custody of the injured military service member.

Contact our Experienced Clearwater Employment Law Attorneys Today!

If you believe your employer is violating the Family and Medical Leave Act, contact the experienced Clearwater employment law attorney, Amie K. Dilla at Dilla Employment Law, P.A. today. She can help you evaluate the merits of your claim and held you explore the best strategy for crafting an effective argument. Contact us today at 727-248-6624 for a free consultation.


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