Whether you are expecting a new child or have an immediate family member with a serious illness, you may feel torn between your work obligations and your family’s needs.
You may worry that taking time off to help will jeopardize your employment and your health care coverage. However, if you are a government employee or work for a mid-size to larger company, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act may offer important protections.
1. What protections does the FMLA provide?
If eligible, you may request up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave under the FMLA. However, while the FMLA only requires a business to provide unpaid leave, your employer may require you to use accrued vacation days, sick days or family leave during some or all of the period you are away.
2. Are you eligible for FMLA leave?
You may have to meet several requirements to be eligible for family leave, including:
- Your employer has a certain minimum number of employees or is a government agency
- You have worked for a specified period of time before requesting leave
- You or a close family member has a qualifying condition
3. What are examples of qualifying FMLA conditions?
Under the FMLA, only certain family circumstances may qualify, including:
- The birth of/bonding with a newborn child
- The adoption/bonding with an adopted or foster child
- A serious health condition affecting a spouse, child or parent
Whatever your family’s need, it is important to know that the FMLA also protects employees from retaliation. Under the FMLA, it may be illegal for your employer to fire you for taking leave or take other actions like offering less pay, a different work schedule or a lesser position when you are able to return to work.