There may be various circumstances in life in which individuals in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, and elsewhere could face the need to take a temporary leave from work. Even if for valid reasons, workers might not always know their options or may fear that a request for leave could affect their employment. Those who face these circumstances might benefit from seeking insight on their legal rights under the FMLA and on the next steps to take should a violation of their rights occur.
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that can provide an employee with as many as 12 weeks of unpaid leave from work within a given year. Most states and Washington, D.C. have similar state or local laws that can protect employees not covered by the federal FMLA. Some valid reasons to request leave include seeking time off for treatment of a medical condition, to care for a loved one who is ill, or when preparing to welcome a child into the family—whether through childbirth or adoption. Eligibility for leave may also depend on various factors, such as whether you have worked there long enough and whether the employer is covered under the FMLA.
Individuals who are eligible for FMLA leave may also benefit from knowing that an employer is required to comply with the request. However, an employer could require an employee to use any available or accrued paid vacation or sick time while taking FMLA leave. It could also be helpful to know that one might have the option to take leave on separate occasions should the need arise, provided one does not go over the allowed time of 12 weeks. While the idea of unpaid leave can seem stressful, experts indicate that some states also have programs to provide financial aid to those facing similar scenarios. Further, the primary purpose of FMLA is job protection – the ability to return to your job without worrying about losing it while on leave.
Even if a person has a valid reason to request leave and is eligible for leave under FMLA terms, preparing to navigate the process can be complicated. Fortunately, there are attorneys who can evaluate the circumstances an individual is facing and assist with every stage of the process. An experienced attorney can help a client better understand all of his or her legal rights and options under the FMLA and provide insight on what to do in the event of a violation of these rights.