March 7, 2024

Family Medical Leave Act: What Are My Rights?

Category: Labor and Employment Law

Author: Matthew T. Hurm, Esq.

What is FMLA?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) allows a worker to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave for certain family and/or medical reasons without the risk of losing your job. FMLA also protects your existing health insurance during the worker’s covered leave. FMLA leave is available for all workers at all public agencies, all K-12 schools, and any company or organization with more than fifty employees.

Who is Eligible for FMLA?

All a worker has to do to be eligible for FMLA is: 1) to work for an employer for more than a year, 2) to have worked for the employer at least 1,250 hours within the last year, and 3) have one of the following situations:

  • the birth of a worker’s child and to bond with the newborn child;
  • the placement with the worker of a child for adoption or foster care, and to bond with that child;
  • to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent – but not an “in-law”) with a serious health condition;
  • to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition; or
  • qualifying exigencies arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on covered active duty or call to covered active-duty status as a member of the National Guard, Reserves, or Regular Armed Forces.

What qualifies as a serious health condition sufficient for FMLA Leave?

  • conditions requiring an overnight stay in a medical care facility;
  • conditions that incapacitate you or your family member for more than three consecutive days and require ongoing medical treatment (either multiple appointments with a health care provider, or a single appointment and follow-up care such as prescription medication);
  • chronic conditions that cause occasional periods when you or your family member are incapacitated and require treatment by a health care provider at least twice a year; and
  • pregnancy (including prenatal medical appointments, incapacity due to morning sickness, and medically required bed rest).

Intermittent Leave

Workers can be eligible for intermittent leave if their qualifying condition makes it medically necessary. Intermittent leave is when a worker does not take the leave in one consecutive block, but instead applies the leave throughout the work week to reduce their schedule to accommodate their condition.

Workers needing intermittent leave for foreseeable medical treatments are required to work with their employers to schedule the leave so as not disrupt the employer’s operations. The employer may transfer the employee temporarily to an alternative job with equivalent pay and benefits that accommodate recurring periods of leave better than the employee’s regular job.

How to File for FMLA Leave?

Workers must notify their employer if they need to take FMLA at least 30 days before the start of the leave – unless the leave is unexpected. The employer may request certification from a medical provider prior to confirming the leave qualifies as FMLA leave.

What happens when the worker returns from FMLA Leave?

The employer is required to return you to the same or similar position with equivalent pay. You should also receive any raises that you would have received without the leave.

If you are having any problems securing FMLA leave or have questions about your rights, please do not hesitate to contact the Hurm Law Firm at (612) 240-2228. We are happy to help!

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