When disaster strikes in your family, it can sideline even the most organized and well-prepared person. A sudden illness or injury can take a physical, emotional and economic toll and lay waste to plans.
Some employees may be unable to work for a time due to these circumstances. When this happens, it helps to know how the government works and what labor laws and practices can protect them. The Family Medical Leave Act is one element that some employees may be able to tap into for assistance. Discover three primary components of the Act to see if it will help you through this difficult time.
- The Purpose of the FMLA
The FMLA was established to help employees take extended leaves of absence from work to care for themselves or loved ones suffering from significant medical issues. It is a protective measure to ensure that a company cannot terminate an employee who meets specified criteria. The entitlements under the FMLA include up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period. This time does not need to be taken at once to qualify. An employer must keep a position open for you that is equivalent to your current job and salary.
- Eligibility for FMLA
FMLA is structured in such a way that certain conditions must be met before you can apply for it. Some of the basic eligibility requirements include:
Length of service – you must be employed with the company for a year
Hours worked – you have to work at least 1,250 hours in the prior 12 months
Company size – the company must have at least 50 employees within 75 miles of where you work
If you and your company meet these essential criteria, you should be able to apply for FMLA.
- Qualifying Conditions
Not everything qualifies for FMLA. The Act is specific in the conditions that meet the criteria for the protection afforded by it. The primary situation that the Act contemplates is your health. If a doctor certifies that you are unable to work for an extended time, whether the condition is because of your work or not, you may apply for FMLA. Expectant parents, whether by birth or adoption, may also take leave to not only get ready for the new addition but also time after to care for the child. This applies to mothers and fathers. Should you need to take time off work to care for a spouse, child or parent who is suffering from a severe injury or grave illness, the FMLA affords it.
Dealing with a family medical crisis should not sideline your career. If you are unsure if your situation is eligible for FMLA, consulting a workers’ compensation lawyer, may help get it sorted out.