Sometimes, your job must come second. When you or a family member are sick or injured, you might need to take off from work. The Family and Medical Leave Act protects your right to be away from work for up to 12 weeks when these needs arise. Unfortunately, few employers fully understand or properly implement this complex law. If your employer denies your ability to take leave to take care of a serious medical condition of yourself or a family member, or retaliates against you for exercising your FMLA rights, Rob has the expertise to help resolve the problem.
If the FMLA applies to your leave, you have the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off to seek treatment for or because of a serious health condition. You are an eligible employee if you have been employed with the company for more than one year and you have worked over 1250 hours in that year. You must work for a company that has at least 50 employees in a 75-mile radius.
The FMLA allows for you to take time off for your own serious health condition, the care of your parent, spouse, or child with a serious health condition, or the birth and care of your newborn, adopted, or foster child.
The FMLA covers most physical and mental conditions, except minor ones, such as colds, the flu, or an upset stomach. Under the FMLA, a serious health condition is a physical or mental condition that requires continuing treatment (which means two or more visits to a health care provider) or inpatient care (which means an overnight stay in the hospital). You do not have to be diagnosed with the condition at the time for your request for leave. Additionally, although some people might think that you must have a health condition that is “serious” to qualify, you need only have a condition that has either been treated in the past by a doctor or a condition for which you had previously been hospitalized. You can take time off to either seek medical treatment, or if the time off itself is needed to recover from the condition — even if you don’t seek medical treatment at that time.
If you have a condition where you have previously had an overnight stay in a hospital and you have had treatment two or more times by a health care provider or one treatment by a health care provider that results in a regimen of treatment, you have a “serious health condition” that is covered under the FMLA.
If you are pregnant and unable to work because of your pregnancy, you have a “serious health condition” that is covered under the FMLA.
If you have a condition where you have had treatment two or more times by or under the supervision of a health care provider, and you are unable to work for more than three consecutive days because of that condition, you have a “serious health condition” that is covered under the FMLA.
If you have a condition that is permanent or long-term and that doesn’t usually respond to treatment, you have a “serious health condition” that is covered under the FMLA.
Additionally, any period of absence to receive multiple treatments by a health care provider (including recovery time) for a situation that, if not treated, would have resulted in a period of incapacity (meaning being unable to work or do other daily activities) for more than three consecutive calendar days, you have a “serious health condition” that is covered under the FMLA.
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, you only need to tell your employer that you need time off for a condition that might meet FMLA qualifications. It would be better to use the words “Family and Medical Leave Act” or just “FMLA,” but you are not required to do so. Once the employer has enough notice that you are requesting time for a condition that might be covered, it is the employer’s obligation to take the next steps to determine whether your request for time off is covered by FMLA laws. If you have informed your employer that your time off is due to a medical condition, then the burden shifts to the employer to request certification, if it feels it needs to do so. Often times, employers never provide notice of your FMLA rights or follows through with certifying your leave as FMLA qualified. Even if they don’t, your leave is still protected under the FMLA as long as you gave notice.
You are not required to disclose your confidential medical information, unless your employer requests it from you. If your employer requests certification, however, you must provide it. Your employer can also require that you supplement this information if you are out for an extended period of time.
The FMLA says that you must give as much notice as is practicable. In some circumstances, you may be able to give at least 30 days’ notice — such as for the adoption of a child or for a surgery or other medical treatment that has been planned. The law allows you, however, to simply provide the time and duration of your leave to your employer. The more time you give, the more time the employer has to accommodate your leave request.
Your employer is required to keep your job open and available to you for the entire 12-week period. You must be placed back into your position or an equivalent position. You cannot be fired for requesting medical leave or taking time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Rob has substantial experience in helping employees throughout Georgia enforce their FMLA rights. If you believe you have a valid FMLA complaint or an issue regarding your FMLA eligibility, please contact Rob for a free case evaluation.