The Family Medical Leave Act (or “FMLA”) protects workers who need to take leave because of their own serious health condition, an immediate family member’s serious health condition, or because they become a mother or a father.
In addition, the FMLA now protects workers who need to take leave related to a family member’s military service, such as arranging child care, attending military functions or taking care of a wounded family member.
The FMLA usually applies to the government or for employers with 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius. The FMLA usually applies to employees who have worked for an employer at least one year.
The FMLA permits eligible employees to take unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks per year. You do not need to mention “FMLA” to your employer in order to be entitled to take FMLA leave. However, you must provide your employer with enough information to enable it to determine that there might be a serious health condition involved and that you might be entitled to FMLA leave. Your employer can require you to fill out paperwork about your need for FMLA leave, and can also require you to take paperwork to your doctor.
In addition, the FMLA permits eligible employees to take off of work unpaid for up to 26 weeks per year for absences related to military duty. This 26 week entitlement includes and is not in addition to the 12 weeks per year provided by the FMLA for workers who need to take leave because of their own serious health condition, an immediate family member’s serious health condition, or because they become a mother or a father.
A “serious health condition” can mean a lot of different things. The following are examples of conditions that can be considered “serious health conditions” under the FMLA:
- You cannot perform regular daily activities for more than three consecutive days due to the condition, and you have gone to the doctor two times, or you have gone to the doctor once and are required to undergo continuing treatment
- You have a chronic condition which requires continuing treatment of at least 2 visits to a health care provider per year
- Your condition has resulted in an overnight hospital stay
- You are incapacitated due to pregnancy
You are not required to take FMLA leave by the day, or even by the hour. In fact, you can take FMLA leave in time increments less than one hour. For example, you may have a health condition which requires you to go to the doctor every now and then, or you might be limited to working less hours because of your health condition. These may both be covered by the FMLA.
Examples of potential illegal conduct under the FMLA include:
- Your employer fires you while you are on FMLA leave
- You come back from FMLA leave and you are fired
- You come back from FMLA leave and your old job is no longer available, and your employer refuses to provide you with comparable work
- Your employer retaliates against you for either taking FMLA leave or attempting to take FMLA leave
- Your employer counts leave taken under FMLA against you based on a "no fault" attendance policy
All information on our website is meant to be generally informative. To find out whether your may have a case of FMLA discrimination or retaliation, you should consult a lawyer of your choice.