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Understanding the Family and Medical Leave Act

On Behalf of | Jun 21, 2017 | Employment Law

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible employees the right to take time off for a variety of reasons. Here, the legal professionals at Snee, Lutche, Helmlinger & Spielberger detail what those reasons are as well as clarify other issues regarding FMLA.

Eligibility for FMLA

Employees who fall into the following circumstances are eligible for time off under the FMLA:

  • Bonding with a newborn or newly adopted child
  • Caring for a family member with a serious health condition
  • Recovering from a serious personal health condition
  • Attending to practical matters arising from a family member’s call to active military duty
  • Caring for a family member who was seriously injured while on active military duty

Who is Responsible for Providing Time Off, Per the FMLA?
All companies that employ more than 50 people (not including independent contractors) for at least 20 weeks of the previous working year must provide time off under the FMLA to all employees.

You qualify for FMLA time off if you work for an employer with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius for at least twelve months. You must also have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours in the year leading up to your leave in order to qualify.

Compensation for FMLA Time

While FMLA time is unpaid, paid leave time that you have accrued prior to taking leave can be used during FMLA time. If you are unsure of your employer’s paid leave policy, it is important that you inquire about this and other time off policies through the human resources or administrative professional within your company.

Advance Notice

For FMLA time that is foreseeable, such as a planned surgery or pregnancy, notice should be given at least a month before your leave needs to begin. For sudden and unforeseeable FMLA time, such as a major car accident or a family illness, notice should be given as soon as possible — preferably the day of or the day after you are made aware of the need. Your employer may request you provide documentation to prove the circumstances for which you are taking FMLA time.

Rights While on Leave

Your employer must continue to provide health insurance coverage if such coverage was provided in the months prior to your time off, in the same manner it was provided. Also, barring a few exceptions, you are entitled to reinstatement to your position, or a position equivalent to yours. If your position was done away with during your absence, you do not have to be reinstated. Another exception is if you were a “key employee” who made an income in the top 10% of the company within your 75-mile radius, and reinstating you would cause the employer major financial harm.

Taking Time Off Without FMLA Time

Many states have their own family and medical leave laws, and many smaller employers create specific policies for these instances. Be sure to speak to your employer for more information.

The employment law attorneys at SLH have vast experience in helping businesses and employees understand the specificities of Maryland and federal employment laws. If you have other questions or concerns about the Family and Medical Leave Act, or require the assistance of legal counsel, contact Snee, Lutche, Helmlinger & Spielberger today.