When you or a loved one gets sick, one of the first things you worry about is your income. How can you take time off for doctors’ appointments, treatments, surgeries and recovery without losing your job? The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) was put into effect so employees could have peace of mind that their jobs and benefits would continue, even in the event of a health crisis. You should always have a conversation with your employer, but here are the basics of FMLA:
- You can take 12 workweeks of leave in a 12-month period.
- You can use FMLA to take care of a spouse, child or parent who has a serious health condition (or for yourself).
- You will still receive your health benefits.
- You should return to the same position as before you took leave.
- All public agencies and all private companies that employ 50 or more employees must provide FMLA.
- You must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months to be eligible, though this doesn’t have to be concurrent.
- Your employer doesn’t have to pay you, though check with your HR department to see if you can use vacation, sick or PTO time to cover some of the missing income.
- You may not have to take all 12 weeks concurrently. Some people ask to take a couple days a week of FMLA for an extended period of time.
- If you take FMLA intermittently, your employer has to the right to discuss changing your job description (but not pay or benefits) to better suit all parties involved.
- If your employer requires documentation of the illness, you have 15 days to obtain this (but you are not required to provide medical records).
- If you can, you should provide your employer with 30 days notice that you plan to take FMLA.
- Once you request to take FMLA leave, your employer has five days to tell you if you’re eligible.
If you are in need of more information about FMLA, check out their Frequently Asked Questions page.
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