Dealing with health problems is among the most stressful experiences that people in New Jersey and Pennsylvania might go through. It is also stressful for people when their loved ones experience major health issues. When workers have to deal with their medical problems or those of their family members, they can encounter complications at their jobs. Most employers typically offer their employees some sick leave that they can take when they become ill. However, sick leave might not be available to workers to care for ill family members. Because of the problems that workers can encounter when they experience serious health conditions or have seriously ill family members, Congress passed the Family and Medical Leave Act in 1993. To understand your rights under the FMLA, talk to the attorneys at Swartz Swidler. Here are some things that you should know about the FMLA.
The FMLA requires covered employers to allow their employees to take time off from work to care for their serious medical conditions or the serious health conditions of their family members. Covered employers under the FMLA are those that have at least 50 employees who work within 75 miles of each other. Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks off per year to take care of their medical conditions or those of their family members. However, the leave is unpaid.
Using paid leave while you are on FMLA leave
While FMLA leave is unpaid, you might be allowed to use any paid level that you have accused when you take FMLA leave. This might provide you with a way to continue getting paid while you are on FMLA leave from your job. Your employer might allow you to use your accrued sick and vacation leave but is not legally required to do so. However, many employers require their workers to use up their accrued leave before they take FMLA leave. Your human resources department can explain your company’s policies.
Eligible circumstances for FMLA leave
FMLA leave is not granted for every type of family health issue. Instead, it will only be approved for specific circumstances. The eligible reasons for FMLA leave include the following:
- Taking leave to deal with your serious health condition or the serious health condition of one of your family members
- Taking leave to care for a military service member or for reasons that are related to deployments
- Taking leave for the birth of your child and to bond with him or her
- Taking leave to bond with a child who has been placed with you for foster care or adoption
Even though the FMLA offers important protection, not all employers are covered, and not all employees are eligible for FMLA leave. Employers that have 50 or more employees working within 75 miles of each other are covered by the FMLA. Those employees must have worked for the employer for at least 20 weeks during the previous or current year for the employers to be covered. Employers that do not have 50 employees do not have to follow the FMLA. Some employees who work for covered employers are not eligible for FMLA leave. To be eligible, the employees must have worked a minimum of 1,250 during the 12 months before they want to take leave. They must have also worked for the employer for at least one year.
Employers and proof of serious medical conditions
Employers have the right to ask their employees who request FMLA leave to obtain medical certifications from their doctors for their need to take leave. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employers should ask for a medical certification within five days of when the employee requests the leave. If your company asks you for a medical certification, you will have to provide it within 15 days. Your employer also can contact your health care provider directly to ask for clarification about why the leave is needed or to authenticate the employee’s for family member’s health condition.
FMLA leave is job-protected leave
One of the important benefits offered by the FMLA is job protection. When you take approved FMLA leave, your employer must reinstate you at your company when you return. However, your employer does not have to give you the same job back. Instead, your employer must return you to your former position or to one that is equivalent in its terms and conditions. Ideally, you will be able to return to your position, but there is not a guarantee that you will. However, you should be given a position that is equal in the benefits and pay that you received in your former position if your employer was unable to hold it open for you.
Talk to the employment attorneys at Swartz Swidler
There are many other provisions and regulations of the FMLA that are important to understand. If you have questions about your rights under the FMLA or believe that your employer has violated the law, you may benefit from talking to an employment lawyer at Swartz Swidler. Contact us today to learn about your rights by calling us at 856.685.7420.