Frequently Asked Questions About The Family And Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The Family and Medical Leave Act is a common source of friction between employees and employers. Many workers do not know their FMLA rights or get conflicting answers from their boss or HR department.
Here our attorneys answer some common questions about FMLA. But this area of the law is fact-specific. We can address your unique situation in a free phone consultation at 317-953-2600. Cleveland Lehner Cassidy serves Indianapolis and all of Indiana.
What is FMLA?
The Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, was enacted to protect the employment of individuals and families who need extra time away from their jobs to care for themselves or their immediate family due to a serious health issue, birth or adoption of a child, or military obligations.
What can FMLA leave be used for?
FMLA provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period:
- To care for a newborn child (either parent can take FMLA)
- To bring an adopted child or foster child into your family
- To care for a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition
- To attend to your own serious health condition
- To cover urgent matters for a spouse, parent or child who is called away to active duty military service
Can my employer refuse to grant FMLA?
It depends if your employer is subject to FMLA. All local, state and federal government agencies (including schools) are covered by FMLA, as well as private sector employers with 50 or more employees. Employers who are covered by FMLA cannot refuse accommodations, but many small businesses are exempt.
Can my employer discipline or fire me for taking FMLA?
No. Retaliation for requesting or taking FMLA leave is expressly illegal. You cannot be terminated, demoted, transferred, disciplined or harassed if you have a legitimate need covered by FMLA. Our attorneys have successfully sued Indiana employers for FMLA-related retaliation.
Do I have to take all 12 weeks at once?
No. You can take FMLA in increments, as needed, up to 12 total weeks. For instance, you might need periodic leave after chemotherapy treatments, or you might take turns with siblings providing care for a sick parent a week or two at a time.
Do I have to use up my sick time and vacation time?
Your employer can require you to use accrued vacation or sick days (for which you will be paid) with FMLA. For example, if you plan to take the full 12 weeks of maternity leave and you have three weeks’ worth of paid time off, your employer can require that you are paid for your first three weeks of leave and the remaining nine weeks would be unpaid.
Does my employer have to keep my job open?
You are guaranteed to return to your same job OR an equivalent job. If your prior job is no longer available, you are entitled to a comparable position with the same hours, pay, benefits and perks. Certain key employees may be exempt from reinstatement, but the employer must give written notice at the time FMLA is requested that they could lose their position.
What Other Questions Do You Have About FMLA?
Employees and employers often have trouble navigating through the technical language in the FMLA, and every scenario is different. We offer a free initial phone consultation if you believe your FMLA rights have been violated.