As an employee, you should learn as much as possible about the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). While you may never take advantage of this benefit, you never know if it's something you could use to your advantage in the future.
If you need to take time away from work for a period longer than your vacation time and sick leave allows, FMLA may be just what you've been looking for.
With this, eligible employees can take unpaid leave from their job for a period of up to 12 weeks during a single 12 month period.
While this is the basic overview of the Family and Medical Leave Act, there are other things you need to know:
- FMLA also provides job protection during your time away from work. Once you return, your employer is required to move you back to your original job (or one that is equivalent).
- You can only take FMLA for a personal or family medical emergency. In other words, you can't use this time off to travel the world or simply take a break.
- Not every employee is covered by FMLA. Rules apply to all federal, local and state employees. The same holds true among those who work for local school districts. However, in the private sector, FMLA only covers employees of companies with 50 or more employees.
Do you need to take a leave?
This depends on your personal situation, but there are many common reasons for taking an FMLA leave. These include:
- The birth and subsequent care of a child
- To care for a child, parent or spouse with a serious illness
- To care for yourself when dealing with a serious medical concern
As you can see, there is a lot to learn about the Family and Medical Leave Act. If you want to take time away, discuss this with your employer. Also, read through any associated language in your employee handbook.
While you hope everything goes as planned, your leave could result in some form of discrimination or retaliation. If this happens, you need to understand your legal rights and what to do next.