Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), employees are entitled 12 weeks of protected unpaid leave in the event of an emergency. The law dictates that an employee that takes a leave under such circumstances is entitled to reinstatement without fear of termination or retaliation.
This unpaid leave allows employees to take leave for a period of up to 12 weeks or 3 months. Acceptable reasons for taking a leave include: serious health issues (e.g., hospital care, pregnancy), the arrival of a new baby, getting ready for military service, and taking care of a seriously injured or ill relative.
Although it’s generally accepted that emergencies can force you to leave work abruptly, the law doesn’t make it mandatory for all employers to give their employees leave. Only certain employers are obligated to offer mandatory leave. They include state, local, or federal institutions, and private employers that maintain more than 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
An employee qualifies for FMLA protection if they have worked for the employer for at least 1 year or 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months.
An employee may be required to provide a doctor’s note or medical certification to show he or she has a medical emergency necessitating FMLA leave. Additionally, the law states that an eligible employer who offers health insurance to their employees must continue to do so during the leave period.
Family leave is allowed if you are going to care for another person in your family. Those that qualify as family members include your children, your spouse, and your parents
If you are eligible for family and medical leave, your employer is not necessarily obligated to pay you for the missed days of work. However, if your employer provides paid vacation and/or sick time, that pay can be provided during your leave. Some employers may have policies that provide paid leave during this time.
The Family and Medical Leave Act requires an employer to maintain an employee’s health insurance coverage under their current health care plan and on the same basis as active employees. However, an employer may require the employee to continue to pay their share of health insurance premiums. Moreover, an employer is required to maintain the same level of coverage that was in effect prior to taking leave. This includes dental and vision coverage. Finally, an employer cannot place minimum work duration requirements to qualify for insurance coverage. More specifically, if an employer requires its employees to work 1800 hours a year to qualify for health insurance, an employer cannot deny next years coverage on account of that employee’s FMLA leave time.
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, an employer and employee can make arrangements to continue other benefits like life insurance and disability insurance. An employee’s right to retirement benefits is also preserved because these family and medical leaves are not considered breaks in employment.
You should notify your employer as early as possible about a scheduled leave. Alternatively, if you don’t know the exact date of the leave because the emergency is unpredictable, notify your employer as soon as possible. It is important to state that you are requesting leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act in order to avoid any miscommunication.
Failure to give your employer notice of leave may delay the start of your leave period or they may assume you simply abandoned your job. In extreme circumstances, the employer may ask you to permanently leave your position after you return from the leave.
Before you file a complaint against your employer, make sure that he or she is required to provide you with leave under the FMLA. Ensure that you did all that was required of you before the employer denied you the leave. More specifically, ensure that you provided them with reasonable notice in advance and that you provided any requested medical certification.
West Coast Employment Lawyers is here to help you evaluate your case. If you have been denied family or medical leave, contact our experienced family and medical leave lawyers right away. Call us today at 1-800-247-9235 to for a free, no-obligation consultation with a California employment lawyer.
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