Preserving Your Job When Your Family Member or You are Sick or You Have a Baby
The Family and Medical Leave Act (the FMLA) protects the jobs of some workers who need to take time off from work when certain family members or they are sick or there is a new baby in the family. You may qualify for 12 weeks of FMLA time per year.
The family members who are covered are parents, sons, daughters, and spouses.
An employer cannot fire you for being absent if the FMLA applies to you.
Which Workers Are Covered by the FMLA?
To be covered by the FMLA, all three of the following must be true:
(1) Your employer must employ at least 50 workers within 75 miles of your job site (however, public employers of all sizes are covered);
(2) You must have been employed by your employer for at least a year; and
(3) You must have worked at least 1250 hours in the year before your leave (an average of about 25 hours per week).
Are All Illnesses Covered?
Although many illnesses are covered, minor ones sometimes are not covered.
Your family member or you must have what is considered a "serious health condition" under the FMLA. Examples include:
* Inpatient care in a hospital or similar facility
* Incapacity for at least four consecutive calendar days and either treatment by a health care provider twice or treatment by a health care provider once with continuing treatment under his/her supervision
* Incapacity of even a short period for chronic illnesses (such as asthma, diabetes or epilepsy)
* Incapacity related to pregnancy or prenatal care
* Attendance of a substance abuse treatment program
What Do I Need To Do To Get FMLA Coverage From My Employer?
The most important requirement is to give your employer enough information so that it should know that the FMLA is applicable to you.
If possible, you must give your employer at least 30 days notice of your need for leave. If not possible to give 30 days advance notice (such as if you have just become sick or had an accident), you must give notice as quickly as possible.
What Are the Most Common Types of FMLA Violations?
Sometimes, employers do not understand that even short absences are covered by the FMLA if they are for "serious health conditions."
Also, employers are not allowed to consider an absence that is FMLA-covered when they apply a progressive discipline policy based on absenteeism.
What Else Can You Tell Me About the FMLA?
The FMLA is a complicated law, and we can't tell you everything about it here. The website of the National Partnership for Women and Families has a great deal of helpful information on the FMLA, including a 28-page guide.
CLS has a one-page brochure on the FMLA in English and Spanish. To read about cases we have handled under the FMLA, click here.
The FMLA is enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor. For a list of the USDOL offices in Pennsylvania, click here.