It can be hard to strike a balance between work and family obligations, but luckily for workers across the country, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) provides employee’s with rights in regards to family issues. This act primarily addresses the need for employers to provide their employees with unpaid leave for health problems, pregnancy and adoption. This act has been modified since the modern family structure has changed over the years, and as an employer, it is important to understand these new changes and guidelines. Read the information below to learn about your rights and responsibilities under the FMLA.
FMLA Coverage Eligibility
Covered employees are entitled to a maximum of 12 weeks of leave in every 12-month period to handle family or personal medical issues, give birth or adopt. Under the FMLA, the leave is unpaid, but the employer is still required to provide health-care benefits to the absent employee. Once the period of leave is over, the employer must reinstate the employee to the exact same position he or she held prior to the absence. If this is not possible, the employer must provide the worker with an equivalent position that offers similar hours, wages, responsibilities and job security. When an employee decides to take a leave of absence, the employer may not discriminate against him or her for doing so.
FMLA coverage does not extend to all workers and employers. It only covers employers who have employed at least 50 workers over the previous 20 weeks. FMLA statutes also apply to public organizations and agencies, as well as public or private secondary schools, regardless of how many workers they employ. A worker is only eligible for FMLA coverage if he or she has worked for a covered employer for at least 12 months (these months do not need to be consecutive). The employee must have also worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during this time frame at a site where the employer staffs at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
If both an employer and employee meet FMLA requirements, the employee will be allowed to use their leave for a variety of reasons, including:
- Giving birth or adopting a child
- A major health condition that prevents him or her from performing the job
- The need to care for a seriously-ill family member
Returning to Work
FMLA leave is unpaid, but an employee and employer are allowed to coordinate the leave with paid leave, such as sick days or vacation days. If an employee takes FMLA leave for a reason that would have been covered by paid leave as well, the employee can elect to use paid vacation, sick or personal days instead of unpaid FMLA leave days. Some employers require a portion of an employee’s paid leave to be credited against FMLA leave.
After returning to work, an employee must be reinstated to the same position that he or she held prior to leave, or a reasonable equivalent. If the employee is not eligible to resume the position for vocational reasons, such as failing to pass a class, the employer must provide an opportunity to fulfill the missing requirement. One exception to this rule involves highly compensated employees who would cause the employer to suffer an extreme loss of income if he or she did not return to work. An employer is not obligated to offer an opportunity if he or she can prove that the employee would have been terminated had they not taken a leave of absence. This is known as the positive elimination defense, and it can be used under certain conditions.
All employers should attempt to develop a firm understanding of the FMLA. By doing so, you can ensure that your company remains afloat in the face of absences.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.