The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives eligible employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave without jeopardizing their employment. Employees also have the added benefit of keeping any medical benefits their job provides them. FMLA protects a worker’s right to reinstate their employment after suffering from serious medical conditions.
Employees can’t take unpaid medical leave for just any reason and not every employee is eligible for FMLA. Here’s what you should know:
Eligible employees for FMLA medical leave
There would likely be major employment issues and many legal battles if everyone hired at an FMLA-eligible job was entitled to medical leave. There are some limitations that prevent just anyone from using FMLA leave.
Typically, employers have to have 50 employees for 20 weeks the prior year before they have to follow the FMLA. In other words, your employer may not yet provide unpaid medical leave. However, if your employer does provide FMLA, employees have to meet exact parameters before they’re eligible for unpaid medical leave.
To qualify for FMLA leave, an employee must be hired with a company for at least a year, work within a 75-mile radius of an FMLA-eligible job and work for 1,250 hours within that year-long employment.
Even if an employee meets all the work-related requirements, that doesn’t guarantee their health permits them FMLA leave. An employee must have a medical condition that warrants medical leave. Some qualifying conditions are as follows:
- An employee is inflicted with a medical condition that prevents them from continuing their work.
- A family member of an employee is in serious need of medical care that requires the employee’s attention.
- An employee is pregnant or in labor or is caring for a child.
- An employee is caring for a foster child.
- An employee’s spouse, child or parent was called into active service.
Employees may face some resistance when applying for medical leave. For example, an employee planning to care for their spouse’s parent who needs medical care may not be given medical leave.
Knowing your rights to FMLA leave may allow easier negotiation with your employee, giving you your much-needed time off.