Eligible employees who work for companies that are covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can take up to 12 weeks off from their jobs because of their own or their close family members’ serious medical conditions. However, they can only take leave under the FMLA for specific listed reasons. Understanding when FMLA leave can be taken is important for eligible employees. Here is what you need to know about the FMLA from the attorneys at Swartz Swidler.
Examples of When FMLA Leave Might Be Taken
Some examples of when an eligible employee can take leave under the FMLA include the following:
- Birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a new child
- Employee’s serious health condition that keeps him or her from performing the essential tasks of his or her job
- The serious health condition of an employee’s family member
The FMLA defines a serious health condition as an injury, illness, or mental or physical condition that requires continuing treatment or an inpatient stay. Family members include the employee’s spouse, parent, or child. Since there are varying reasons why you might need to take time off from your job under the FMLA, you should make sure that your reason for needing leave fits within a category of allowable events. Some of the types of events that qualify for FMLA leave under current regulations are described below.
Leave to Care for a Newborn
Both new mothers and fathers can take up to 12 weeks of leave under the FMLA following the birth of a new child to bond with him or her. Fathers can also take leave to care for their incapacitated spouses during pregnancy and childbirth. Parents can choose to take their 12 weeks of leave spread out over a year by taking a few weeks off at a time or by taking intermittent leave. If both parents are employed by the same company, however, the employer might limit them to a combined total of 12 weeks of leave.
Leave to Care for Newly Adopted or Foster Care Children
Parents can also take FMLA leave to care for newly adopted or foster care children. They can take up to 12 weeks of time off from work up to one year after an adoptive or foster care placement. Parents who intend to adopt can also take leave before the placement occurs if required to do so to attend counseling, court appearances, or travel to another state or country to finalize the adoption. Where the child originates has no bearing on whether a parent will be allowed to take FMLA leave before a child’s adoptive placement.
Some women undergo complications during pregnancy that qualify as serious health conditions under the FMLA. For example, if a doctor places a pregnant mother on bed rest during the pregnancy, she should be able to request FMLA leave from her job. The employer can request documentation to verify the complication through a medical certification.
Medical Leave for a Family Member’s Serious Health Condition
If you are an eligible employee with a spouse, parent, or child who has a serious health condition, you can request FMLA leave to care for your family member. However, you cannot take leave to care for your in-laws or grandparents under the FMLA. The health condition must be serious and cannot include an ordinary illness like the flu or the common cold. However, if a common illness is deemed to be serious by a doctor because of its prolonged nature, it might still qualify in certain circumstances.
Medical Leave for the Employee’s Serious Health Condition
In some cases, an eligible employee will suffer a serious health condition and need to take time off from work under the FMLA. For example, if you are injured in a car accident, and your injuries prevent you from performing the necessary tasks of your job, you can request leave under the FMLA. Similarly, you can also take time off from work to receive continuing care from a doctor for your serious health condition.
To qualify, your health condition must incapacitate you for more than three days. If your condition is such that you must see your doctor two or more times, your visits must happen within 30 days of the date you first became incapacitated. Employers can require employees to provide medical certifications from the doctors of their serious health conditions, and the employees must receive treatment for their conditions at least twice in a 12-month period.
Leave to Care for Military Service Family Members
If you have a loved one who was injured while serving in the military, you might be eligible to take leave under the FMLA to care for him or her. You can also request leave to handle certain issues caused by your family member’s deployment.
If you have determined that you are eligible for leave under the FMLA based on any of the specified reasons listed above, you must also ensure that you meet the other eligibility requirements. You must have worked for a covered employer for at least one year and have completed at least 1,250 hours during that time. You must also make sure that you meet the notice requirements under the FMLA before taking leave.
Speak to the Attorneys at Swartz Swidler
If you need to take leave under the FMLA but have been denied, you should speak to the attorneys at Swartz Swidler as soon as possible. We can help you understand your rights and legal options. Call us today for a free case evaluation at (856) 685-7420.