If you work for a company that offers Family and Medical Leave to their employees, you may be wondering just what sort of situations would justify taking advantage of such a benefit. While there are many situations where these benefits may be made available, the first step, of course, is to determine if you are eligible.
In this article, learn more about the specifics of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), including what it is, what the eligibility requirements are, and what situations you can use it for.
What is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was created in 1993 to help employees better balance their work and family obligations, especially in the event that they or a family member become seriously ill. The Family and Medical Leave Act offers employees up to 12 weeks of excused absence from their jobs every year, and was enacted to aid employees in balancing work and personal obligations, without forcing them to choose between the two in times of crisis.
Who Is Eligible?
All public and private agencies and schools, and any companies with 50 or more employees are required to offer up to 12 weeks of paid leave under FMLA to their employees. However, employees are not eligible to apply for FMLA unless they have already completed a full 12 months of work with at least 1,250 hours on the clock.
Situations that Justify Using FMLA
Below you will find various family and health situations that justify using FMLA to get up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from your job. Keep in mind that you should always check with your company’s HR department when you think you need to use your FMLA. They will provide you with the necessary forms to fill out to get the ball rolling.
Situations that justify using FMLA include:
- Birth of a Newborn to the Employee
One of the biggest reasons to use FMLA is for childbirth, especially if your company does not offer a separate maternity (or paternity) leave. This can be used by either the father or the mother (provided their company offers FMLA). The parent has the option to use the 12 weeks up all at once, or to spread it out over time by lessening the amount of hours he or she works, allowing for more time at home with the new baby.
- Pregnancy Complications
If the pregnant mother is experiencing serious complications with her pregnancy, this qualifies as a serious health condition, and therefore is a legitimate reason to use FMLA. In this case, the mother would need to obtain written documentation from their doctor stating that they need to be on bed rest and are unable to work for the remainder of the pregnancy.
- Adopting or Fostering a Child
Adopting or fostering a child is another situation covered by FMLA. This gives the applicant up to 12 weeks of leave to be used for court visits, counseling, or travelling to another country (for the purpose of adopting a child). Or, it can be used to spend time with the adopted or fostered child once the placement is complete.
- Caring for Ill Family Member
If your spouse, child, or parent has a serious medical condition and you need to care for them, you are eligible to use FMLA to take the necessary time off (up to 12 weeks, of course) to do so. This does not cover in-laws or grandparents, nor does it cover the common cold, flu, headaches, or other such ordinary ailments. The only way common illnesses would qualify is if they would exacerbate much more serious issues with the family member, and a doctor has provided certification specifying it.
- Your Own Serious Medical Condition
If an employee is unable to perform their duties due to any kind of serious illness (acute or chronic), then they are also eligible to use FMLA to take time off to heal or get treatment. As with other situations, you can either take the 12 weeks all at once, if needed, or spread it out over time if you have to go through ongoing treatments (however they must be at least 2 treatments per calendar year.
Serious medical conditions qualify as physical conditions, as well as mental illnesses, as well. Serious anxiety, depression, or any other mental illness (even job-related stress) can also qualify an employee for FMLA paid leave.
Keep in mind that with any illness (physical or mental), the employee may need to provide certification from their doctor or psychiatrist to show proof of illness.
- Military Family Member
FMLA can also be used if a military relative was injured on duty and you need to take care of them, or to address any issues that may arise before or during a family member’s deployment.
This could also include attending military events, support programs for the family, arranging childcare, and more.
Get Legal Assistance
If you have any further questions regarding FMLA eligibility or help determining what situations justify FMLA-assisted leave, contact the Employment Law Attorneys at The Brown Firm PLLC.