The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was enacted in 1993. The law was written to protect the rights of workers who are cannot work due to a medical condition, or who need to take time off of work to care for a loved one. The leave time that is allotted under the FMLA is unpaid, but the FMLA legally preserves the professional position of employees who need to take medical leave and maintains health insurance coverage during the leave period. The Family and Medical Leave Act essentially states that employees who leave their job for an extended period of time, for the purpose of caring for themselves or a family member, cannot be terminated or denied insurance benefits because they took leave.
Who Qualifies for the Protections of the Family and Medical Leave Act?
Some employees are exempt from the rights outlined in the Family and Medical Leave Act. To qualify for FMLA benefits, an employee must work full-time for a business with more than 50 employees. The law does not provide protections for part-time workers or employees of small companies and also excludes those who take time off to care for pets, those with short-term ailments, or elderly relatives who are not their parents. The FMLA excludes elected officials as well.
FMLA protections are generally reserved for immediate family members (spouses, parents, and children) only. The rights do expand if the ill or injured person is a service member. A service member’s next of kin can be eligible for FMLA protections in addition to their spouse, parents, and children, and leave time is expanded to 26 work weeks.
What Circumstances Allow for the Use of FMLA-Protected Leave?
The Family and Medical Leave Act allows qualified employees to take up to twelve weeks (during a twelve month period) off of work to provide assistance to family members or address their own health issues. In addition to illness treatment, the FMLA also covers employees who need to take off to care for a new child.
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, workers are protected if they leave work for the purpose of:
- Completing treatment for a serious illness
- Helping a family member during an illness
- Caring for a newborn infant, or for a child who was recently adopted or fostered
- Assisting an ill or injured service member
Under these circumstances, you may qualify for FMLA protections. If you have questions about your FMLA rights or believe you were wrongfully denied the protections of the Family and Medical Leave Act, contact Donati Law, PLLC for a free consultation.
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