Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a powerful federal law that provides some (but not all) employees with the ability to take up to 12 weeks off (unpaid) and still be able to keep their jobs and medical benefits.
The FMLA gets updated from time to time – for instance, it was updated in January 2009 to change the rules for military family leave. But in general it applies to employees who work in large companies (50+ people), and people who work at public and private schools and public agencies. To be eligible, an employee must work for the company for over a year – 1,250+ hours over a 12-month period – and work at a place where the firm staffs over 50 employees within a radius of 75 miles.
Even these highly specific regulations can be parsed further: for instance, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is often used to determine whether an employee has worked enough hours to meet the 1,250 hour threshold.
To get up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, the employee must provide a justified reason. Here are some justifications that would likely qualify:
- You’ve developed a serious health problem, such as crippling arthritis or fibromyalgia.
- Someone in your immediate family got sick and requires your care – e.g. you need to take care of a parent who has been stricken with Alzheimer’s or some other condition.
- You and your partner are in the middle of adopting or starting to provide foster care for a child; or you have just become a new parent.
When you take off time due to pregnancy complications, that time off can actually be counted against your 12 weeks unpaid leave. Other rules and restrictions may apply, depending on your industry, your work history, and other factors.
To make the most strategic and effective decisions about your leave – and maximize your rights and deal with any problems – connect with the team here at the Law Offices of Daniel Vega here in the Bay Area. Our team has the sensitivity and experience to help you deal with unfair or even recalcitrant employers and ensure that you are treated respectfully.