There are some times when you need a break from work to care for yourself. Perhaps you had a car accident or are getting over a serious illness. What happens to your job when you can’t work for a while? In the U.S., some employees are entitled to take extended unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, commonly known as FMLA. The length of the leave and the conditions for eligibility depend on a few factors. Understanding what these are may help ease your mind during a difficult situation.
To qualify for FMLA, you need to fulfill a few requirements. First, you have to be actively working for a company that has at least 50 employees. The workforce can be spread out, such as satellite offices, but these need to be within a 75-mile radius of each other. If you work for a bank, for example, in all the branches within 75 miles there have to be at least 49 other employees. You also have to be working for a continuous 12-month period with a minimum of 1250 hours worked during that time. These are the first prongs of qualifications.
Conditions Covered Under FMLA
Your illness or injuries may incapacitate you for a longer period beyond the number of vacation hours you have. If you are under a doctor’s care and they can provide medical proof of your condition, you may be eligible for FMLA. What if it isn’t you who is sick but rather a spouse or parent? If a close and direct relative needs care that you can give, you may also qualify for leave. Here are some of the other instances:
- Pregnancy, yours or your spouse
- Caring for a sick child, natural or adopted
- Providing help to a returning military service member
Documentation is required to be out of work under FMLA. Getting that information to the proper channels at the workplace will ensure you’re protected.
Time Out of Work
Under the FMLA, an employee is eligible to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave without losing your job. You do not need to take all 12 weeks at one time. You may take any amount of time up to this threshold in a calendar year. FMLA does not guarantee that you will keep the same position. Your employer has the right to replace you if the position needs attending. However, they must hold a spot for you somewhere that is relatively equal to the one you once held.
If you want more information on your rights under FMLA, get in contact with a workers’ compensation lawyer to assist you in filing your claim.