Understanding Laws Regarding the Family Medical Leave Act
Although your employer is not required to provide you with paid sick days, they may be required by federal law to allow you to take time off of work without pay when medical situations arise. The FMLA or Family Medical Leave Act applies to employers that have at least 50 employees as well as all local, state and federal governments.
If you have worked with your current employer for at least one year, you may be eligible to take leave under the FMLA. You are required to provide your employer with a written notice requesting this leave and you have to ensure that this notice is delivered to your employer at least 30 days before you plan to begin your leave. There is an exception to this rule in the event of an emergency. For instance, if your child suddenly becomes ill and you need to take leave, the 30 day rule is normally waived. You are also required to provide proof of why you need to take this leave and this must be a qualifying reason.
The FMLA allows time off for a number of situations. If you are unable to work because of an illness, the leave allows you to take off the time that you need without worries of losing your job. You are also allowed this leave if you need to provide care for an immediate member of your family who has a serious medical condition. Immediate family members include children, spouses or parents. You can request this leave to care for your newborn child or to help a newly fostered or adopted child to adjust to your home.
Your employer is allowed to ask that you show proof of why you are requesting leave and if you do not show this proof, your employer can refuse to grant the leave without repercussion. Members of the United States military have additional rights under the FMLA. Any parent, child, spouse or other next of kin to military members are permitted to take up to 26 weeks off to care for that service member when a serious illness or injury occurs. In addition, families of National Guard or Reserve members are permitted to take twelve weeks of leave under the FMLA to deal with issues that may arise when a service member is called up to active duty.
During your leave of absence under the FMLA, your job is protected and your employer is required to continue paying for health coverage. Your employer must grant the leave if all of the requirements are met and cannot discriminate against you because you have requested to take time off from your job. Upon your return to work, your employer must reinstate you to your former position or provide you with a position that is equal to or higher than the one that you left without affecting your pay rate, seniority or company benefits. If your employer does not comply with the FMLA, you have the right to pursue damages from your employer.