It is stressful enough dealing with a serious medical condition, or caring for a family member who has one, without worrying about whether it will affect your employment standing. Fortunately, there is a law in place that protects your job and your health insurance benefits even if you have to take a significant amount of time off from work to recover from a serious illness or injury or to care for a family member. It is called the Family and Medical Leave Act, commonly abbreviated as FMLA.
What Does FMLA Do?
FMLA provides eligible employees of covered employers 12 work-weeks of unpaid leave each year. Only certain circumstances qualify for FMLA benefits. If you have an immediate family member (e.g., parent, spouse, child) who has a serious medical condition and requires your care, you can take FMLA leave. You can also claim FMLA if a serious medical condition of your own prevents you from working. However, it is not only unfortunate events that qualify for FMLA leave. You can also claim it due to the birth of a new baby or the placement of an adoptive or foster child in your home.
If you take leave under FMLA, your employer can neither fire your nor take away your health benefits. It is illegal for an employer to interfere with your FMLA benefits in any way.
Which Employers Are Covered?
FMLA applies to most private employers. However, very small companies with less than 50 employees are not covered under FMLA. The only exception is if your employer maintains an alternate location with more than 50 employees located less than 75 miles away from where you work.
However, FMLA covers all public agencies at the federal, state, and local level, as well as all school employees whether public or private.
What Are the Employee Eligibility Requirements?
Even if your situation should qualify for FMLA, you still have to meet the eligibility requirements. You must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months. These 12 months do not need to be consecutive. For example, if you have been doing seasonal work for an employer during the summer for a number of years, you could still claim FMLA benefits if you have worked a total of at least 12 months for that employer. In the preceding 12-month period prior to the leave, however, you must have worked at least 1,250 hours.If you have questions about whether you can claim FMLA benefits, or if you believe your employer has violated your rights under FMLA, an attorney, like one of the workers injury lawyers in Milwaukee, WI from Hickey & Turim, SC, may be able to explain your options. Contact a law office to schedule a consultation.