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3 instances when employees legally qualify for FMLA leave

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is an invaluable piece of legislation. It protects U.S. employees’ right to take unpaid leave for qualifying medical and family reasons.

This protection helps to ensure job security during these critical times. But with legalese and complex regulations, navigating FMLA eligibility can be confusing. It can benefit you to know when you may legally qualify for FMLA leave, whether you need it right now or you may simply need it in the future.

Your own serious health condition

One primary reason for taking FMLA leave is for your own serious health condition. This encompasses illnesses, injuries and ongoing medical treatments that significantly limit your ability to perform your job functions.

The Act defines serious health conditions as needing inpatient care, needing ongoing supervision from a healthcare provider or experiencing continuing treatment that renders you unable to perform some or all of your job duties. For instance, if you require surgery and subsequent physical therapy. This can limit your mobility and ability to perform essential job tasks. Therefore, you’d likely qualify for FMLA leave.

Family caregiving: Supporting loved ones in need

The FMLA recognizes the importance of caring for immediate family members experiencing serious health conditions. This includes your spouse, children (biological, adopted or stepchildren) and parents (including in-laws). A serious health condition in this context mirrors the definition used for employee illness. For instance, if your spouse undergoes chemotherapy, they may require frequent doctor visits and potentially experience debilitating side effects. As such, you could take FMLA leave to provide support and manage their care.

Welcoming a new child: Bonding and family time

The arrival of a child is a joyous occasion, and FMLA acknowledges the need for new parents to adjust and bond. You can take leave for the birth of a child and this includes biological births, foster care placement and adoption. This leave can also be used to care for a newborn or newly placed child within one year of their arrival.

After adopting a child, you might need time to adjust to parenthood, complete necessary legal paperwork and establish a routine with your new family member. FMLA leave would allow you to address these needs without jeopardizing your job.

By understanding your rights and navigating the process effectively, you can take the necessary leave to address personal or family health concerns while preserving your employment status. Should your employer deny you FMLA leave, you can benefit from personalized legal guidance to determine the best course of action.

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