Family or health problems could take up all your time, requiring you to take time off from work. Fortunately, you may be able rely on the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), or the state and local equivalents for smaller employers, to ensure you can return to your job after taking your FMLA leave.
However, you must meet specific conditions to qualify for protection in taking federal FMLA leave. These qualifications include the following:
- The FMLA covers your employer.
- You worked 1,250 hours within the year before taking your leave.
- Your employer has at least 50 employees working within 75 miles of your location.
- You have been employed with your employer for at least 12 months.
Gaps in your employment could affect your eligibility. Even so, the federal law provides exceptions for intervals caused by military service or pursuant to collective bargaining agreement.
State and local FMLA leave requirements and benefits vary from one state to another, but usually are intended to protect employees who work at smaller employers not covered by the federal law. Some state and local laws also require employers to provide paid sick leave.
What situations are covered by the FMLA?
You can only file for FMLA leave for the following events:
- Giving birth or caring for your child
- Adopting or looking after a child from foster care
- Serving as a caretaker for a seriously ill family member
- Being incapable of working because of a severe health issue
The FMLA has provisions for several other factors, such as specific situations that only apply to military families.
When do I receive a notice about my eligibility?
After submitting your request to your employer, they must notify you about your eligibility within five days. Sometimes, this deadline might change if extenuating factors affect the situation.
Additionally, your employer should inform you about any details relating to your FMLA leave such as certifications for your eligibility and other paid leaves you could use. An employer may also require you to take paid leave at the same time you are taking unpaid FMLA leave.
If you have concerns about whether you qualify for FMLA leave, or you are concerned that your employer is improperly denying you FMLA leave or is retaliating against you for having taken FMLA leave, you can consider contacting an attorney to learn about your rights and how to protect them.