Health problems and family changes can be stressful, so it isn’t surprising that employees may need to take time off work to face these challenges. Many employers offer some form of sick leave or paid time off, but these may not always be adequate. The Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) offers an alternative for many workers, and can allow them to take up to 12 weeks of leave per year to handle family and medical issues. Here are some important facts to know about the FMLA.
The FMLA Allows 12 Weeks of Unpaid Leave
In a 12-month period, eligible employees are entitled to 12 weeks of leave, however, the leave doesn’t have to be paid. The purpose of FMLA is not to ensure that you receive pay during your leave time, but rather that your job is protected in your absence.
You May Be Able to Use Paid Leave During Your FMLA Leave
Under certain circumstances, it may be possible to use paid leave during your FMLA leave to continue receiving pay. Sick days, paid time off, and vacation days can help you, but there may be limits. Some companies may not allow you to use FMLA leave until you have used other types of leave, while others may not even offer leave options. Check with your company’s human resources department to confirm your company’s policies.
You May Only Use FMLA Leave Time for Certain Purposes
FMLA leave is not intended to be used as vacation time. Instead, it is intended to provide relief under certain circumstances, such as:
- Recovery from a serious health condition
- Caring for an immediate family member during their serious health condition
- Specified reasons related to military deployment of you or an immediate relative
- Preparing for the birth of a new child and other parenting duties of new parents
- Preparing for the placement and care of a new foster or adopted child.
Not Every Employer or Employee Is Covered By FMLA
Employers are only bound by FMLA if the company has employed at least 50 employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or previous year. As an employee, you are only eligible for leave if you have worked for the company for at least a year, and have worked for 1,250 hours during that year. You must also work at a location that has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
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If you are uncertain if your company is required to meet FMLA requirements, or if you are an employee who has been denied FMLA leave, we are here to help. With more than 85 years of collective experience, our team at Buckley Beal LLP has the skills and knowledge to protect your rights. Let our Atlanta employment lawyers assist you with your case.