Even The Odds In Your Fight For Employee Rights
Photo of American flag for Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labour Day

When is a worker’s need for leave protected by law?

On Behalf of | Jun 29, 2023 | FMLA Discrimination

husband worried about wife in hospital bed

What workers want often conflicts with what their employers desire. Companies want to get as much work for as little money as possible, while employees obviously prefer the best wages and most competitive benefits packages that they can obtain. Companies often also have different ideas about work-life balance than employees do.

Even the most dedicated worker could potentially require a leave of absence from their job due to circumstances beyond their control. Unfortunately, employers often prioritize reliable attendance above many other metrics for job performance. The pressure of maintaining a position for someone who will not be at work for weeks or months might lead the company to terminate that worker and hire someone else. However, federal law protects the right of workers to take unpaid leave under certain circumstances, even if their employer doesn’t offer them paid time off benefits.

Their employment must meet specific standards

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is the federal statute that establishes the right of employees to take unpaid leave in specific situations. However, a worker’s employment must meet certain standards for FMLA to apply.

The first rule is that the company must be large enough to absorb their leave. The FMLA only applies when a company has at least 50 workers within 75 miles of the person requesting an unpaid leave of absence. Additionally, the worker needs to have a lengthy history of employment with the company. Typically, they must have worked for the business for at least 12 months and accrued at least 1,250 hours of paid work before they qualify for FMLA protection.

Their situation must fall into special categories

There are three different categories of situations that make a worker eligible for leave. The first involved personal medical issues. Employees may qualify for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the FMLA when they need to undergo treatment or recover from an injury. The second category involves the medical need of immediate family members, if someone’s spouse, child or parent requires support as they recover from surgery or a serious injury, a worker can request unpaid leave to provide that assistance. Finally, the FMLA protects those who have just had a child, adopted a child or secured a foster placement.

Unfortunately, some employers refuse to grant FMLA leave even when it applies to the situation or will try to punish an employee who requests leave. Understanding the law is the first step toward making use of one’s rights or holding an employer accountable for illegal retaliation.