Family and work are often the most important things in people’s lives. It is difficult to balance the two when major life events surface. You might need to take leave from work to help a sick loved one or care for your newborn. That is why legal protections are in place to ensure that American workers are allotted time away from their jobs without concern.
The Family & Medical Leave Act provides certain workers with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave every year. This law helps protect employees from unfair treatment when they need to handle medical emergencies or family matters. FMLA provides job protection for any of the following reasons:
- Childbirth and care of the newborn
- Adoption or foster care of an employee’s child
- Serious health conditions
- Serious health conditions of an immediate family member
Not everyone is eligible
Unfortunately, not all employees qualify for time off work under the law. You may be eligible for leave under FMLA if you work for a company with more than 50 employees, a public agency, or an elementary or secondary school. You will also need to have worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months.
If you qualify, then you should be able to give your employer a notice of leave and expect not to be reprimanded or fired. While an employer must provide a job when you return, they do not necessarily have to provide the same position. If your employer is in dire need of a worker in your position then they are free to fill the spot while you are away. However, they must offer employment in a similar position when you return.
Not every employer plays by the rules
Even with federal regulations in place, some employers decide to break the rules. Before you take leave you should get the time off approved in writing by your boss. Unfortunately, an emergency may make this process impossible. Some employers may use this as a reason to penalize or fire you. Your employer might illegally deny your request for leave all together. If your employer has denied you time away or penalized you after a family emergency, then contact an attorney to discuss your rights under the Family & Medical Leave Act.