The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is intended to help employees balance the demands of their employment with their own personality and interests. The law recognizes that people may need time off under certain circumstances, but they also have concerns about what happens to their job situation if they do so. FMLA protects the interests of employees during the duration of their time off and, though leave is unpaid, individuals can enjoy certain benefits when they return.
If you’re considering being away from work and want to know more about the protections provided by FMLA, it’s essential to consult with a Georgia employment attorney. Your rights are limited and there are strict rules regarding eligibility, so you should fully understand what to expect before you approach your employer about taking leave. Still, you may benefit from reviewing 4 Quick Facts about FMLA.
- Statistics on Leave Under FMLA: Some data on American employees who take leave pursuant to the law will help you realize that you’re not alone in seeking time off. According to the Center for American Progress:
- Approximately 20 million people take unpaid leave through FMLA every year.
- Around 1 in 5 individuals get time off work for the birth or adoption of a child.
- Almost 75 percent of employees are away from their job due for medical reasons, whether their own or a loved one’s condition.
- Employee Eligibility Under FMLA: Not all individuals qualify for job protection under the law. You only qualify if your employer has 50 or more workers on the payroll for at least 20 weeks during the current or preceding calendar year. That number includes all full- and part-time employees who work within 75 miles of the workplace. In addition:
- You must have been employed for at least 12 months, though this doesn’t need to be consecutively; and,
- You need to have accumulated a minimum of 1,250 hours, not including vacations, holidays, and other leave during which you may have been paid.
- Qualifying Reasons for Taking Leave: You are allowed to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for a serious health condition, whether you suffer from an ailment or are caregiver for a child, spouse, or parent who does. FMLA also protects those who take leave for a newborn or adopted child, or to help manage the affairs of active duty military members.
- Job-Related Protections During FMLA Leave: During your absence, your employer must continue to pay for health insurance and offer the same benefits that you’d be entitled to when taking other forms of leave – pursuant to your employer’s established policies. When you return to work, your employer must place you in the same position as you were or one that provides the equivalent benefits, pay, and working conditions.
Note that there are exceptions for key employees, those salaried individuals who earn within the top 10 percent of positions at your place of work. An employer can deny job restoration for these employees under certain circumstances.
Consult with a Georgia Employment Disputes Lawyer Right Away
While these facts about FMLA may help you understand some of the basic concepts, there are still many other details and legal concepts that affect your right to take leave. Plus, your situation may be further complicated if your employer denies your request or imposes some restrictions that affect your rights.
At the Vaughn Law Firm, our team is prepared to handle the challenges and protect your interests. We’re dedicated to assisting clients with a wide range of employment law matters, so please contact our Decatur, GA office by calling 877.615.9495 or via our website. We can set up a consultation to review your circumstances and advise you on your options.