The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires your employer to grant up to twelve weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for any of the following conditions:
- Pregnancy and/or the birth of a child
- A serious injury or illness that prevents you from doing your job
- The need to care for a spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition
- Placement of a child in your home (adoption or foster care)
- A “qualifying exigency” related to a family member in the military
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides you with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in order to care for the serious health condition of you or a family member. It also provides protections for military families to make arrangements and attend to certain family needs.
According to FMLA law, employers must grant you FMLA leave if you can certify that you or someone you care for has a serious health condition and leave is medically necessary. You may even qualify for intermittent leave based on the nature of the condition. An employer that interferes with your FMLA rights by denying leave or ending your employment because you took or requested leave, may be liable. If you believe that this has happened to you, contact an employment attorney at The Noble Law. Remedies include reinstatement to your position or a very similar position or payment of wages and benefits lost.
FMLA Leave for Military Caregivers
A qualifying exigency for families of active military personnel can happen for a variety of different reasons. If, for example, your spouse is in the military reserves and is recalled to active duty — requiring you to take on full-time child care — this is likely to qualify under FMLA law. If a member of your family serving in the military is severely injured, you can qualify for up to 26 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave in order to care for them.
FMLA Eligibility Requirements
In order to qualify for most FMLA leave, you must have worked for your employer for at least the prior 12 months. If the facility where you work has less than 50 employees or is located more than 75 miles away from your employer’s main office, you may not be eligible for FMLA leave.
In order for the Family and Medical Leave Act to protect your job, you may need to take additional steps as prescribed by your employer. Employers do not always provide clear information about FMLA leave requirements ahead of time, so it is important to inform yourself of the facts.
Your employer has the legal right to refuse FMLA leave if certain conditions are not met. For example:
- If you have vacation time or other paid leave, your employer can require you to exhaust all of the paid leave before using any FMLA leave. However, if they do so, this paid leave does not count against your 12 or 26 weeks.
- Your supervisor or HR department can require a note from a doctor certifying a legitimate medical condition.
- If you take time off from work for short-term disability (STD), this time can also be counted against your FMLA leave.