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Understanding The Family and Medical Leave Act

If you or a loved one gets sick, it can seem nearly impossible to balance your personal life with your professional one. Naturally, your first instinct is to drop everything and care for your family member, however, it is hard to know if your employer will be understanding or if you will have to find another way to provide for yourself. It may not seem pressing now, but it is important to educate yourself on the Family and Medical Leave Act. This act will play a major role in how you respond to a medical emergency within the family.

What are your rights under the FMLA?

The act was established in 1993 to help employees tend to their families while leading professional careers. The act states that you are allowed to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a year’s span in order to tend to your own health issues, or those of a family member. Likewise, you can also take advantage of the act for the birth of a child or an adoption.

However, just because you are working, it does not necessarily mean that you are covered by FMLA. According to the act, you must have been working for your employer for at least 12 months before you can request leave. Also, you must have worked at least 1,250 hours that year-if you work an eight hour day that is roughly 156 days.

If you are in a position where you need to utilize the FMLA, your company could require you to use paid leave first. Different companies have varying policies, which is why it is best to consult with HR before moving forward. Even if your company does not require you to use your paid leave, you could still elect to do so for as long as possible. For most people losing pay entirely would be an issue, which is why many take this type of leave before the additional 12 they can take under the FMLA.

How the FMLA Will Affect Your Job

Keep in mind, while the FMLA guarantees your right to a job at your current company, it does not necessarily mean that you will return to the same position you had previously. Your employer cannot demote you, as the act does state you have to return to position of equal pay and benefits; however, it could be within different area of the company.

Dealing with a sick family member is never easy. If you need extended time off work but are having trouble with your employer, please contact Stewart & Musell, LLP today. Let our employment law attorneys help you craft a compelling case for your time off.