Taking care of family members and oneself is a top priority, but unfortunately, it can sometimes conflict with work obligations. Thankfully, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) exists to help bridge that gap. This law requires certain employers to provide qualifying employees with job-protected, unpaid leave for specified family and medical reasons.
Leave Duration and Intermittent Leave
The FMLA provides many weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for qualified employees. This duration allows for long-term care or recovery, including maternity or adoption leave, hospitalization, or recovery from serious illness or injury. Additionally, the FMLA allows for intermittent leave, meaning employees can take leave in separate, smaller blocks of time for qualifying reasons. For example, if you need to take a half-day of leave each week to care for a family member with a chronic condition, you can do so without fear of losing your job.
One notable benefit of the FMLA is that covered employees are entitled to the continuation of health benefits throughout the leave period. This includes coverage under any group health plan that is provided by the employer. Keeping health insurance while on leave is essential, primarily when dealing with medical conditions or serious illnesses. Employees can opt to pay premiums during the leave period or be reimbursed for the payment once they return to work.
One of the most significant benefits of the FMLA is job protection. Covered employees are entitled to return to the same or an equivalent job once the leave is complete. Employers must continue to provide benefits, such as health insurance and retirement contributions, while the employee is on leave. Employers may not discriminate against employees who are taking or have taken FMLA coverage. Ensuring job protection and fair treatment during leave can provide employees peace of mind and financial stability during a challenging time.
Qualifying Reasons for Leave
The FMLA provides qualifying employees with the ability to take leave for a variety of reasons. These reasons include serious health conditions, new babies, newly adopted children, and foster children, as well as caring for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition. The FMLA also allows military spouses to take leave for any "qualifying exigency" related to a spouse's active duty with the military.
Employers are required by law to adhere to the FMLA guidelines and provide eligible employees with the necessary leave and benefits. If you are covered under the FMLA and your employer violates the law, you may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor. Employees who are retaliated against for taking FMLA leave or reporting FMLA violations may also be entitled to legal recourse, such as reinstatement, back pay, and legal fees.
The FMLA is the cornerstone of many employee benefit packages, providing protection and peace of mind for employees who need time off for family or medical reasons. While the act may not be perfect, it represents critical progress in recognizing the balancing act of work and personal life. If you are eligible for FMLA leave, it is essential to understand your rights and communicate with your employer. As an employee, the FMLA will allow you to take care of what matters most without fear of losing your job or benefits. As an employer, providing FMLA leave can show your commitment to your employee's well-being and loyalty. Understanding, prioritizing, and implementing the FMLA law not only benefits employees and employers, but it is also the right thing to do.
Contact a local lawyer to learn more about FMLA law cases.
If you are a business owner, there are bound to be times when you ask yourself, "is this legal?" You may have this question before you sign a certain contract, fire an employee, or set a new policy for your customers. The best person to answer this question is, of course, a business attorney. They have specific training and experience to guide business owners in making smart legal decisions. The posts on this blog are all related to business attorneys and the work that they do. We think you'll benefit from reading them, whether you own a business yourself or are thinking of getting into business law.