The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows workers to take unpaid time off from their job for a medical reason without worrying about the possibility of termination or loss of pay upon returning. Every company should know what FMLA leave is, who qualifies and how to deal holistically with the situation – even upon return.

FMLA leave can be taken for up to 12 weeks across a rolling 12-month period. Reasons for this kind of leave include the arrival of a new child to the family – by either birth or adoption – to care for a family member with a serious illness, or for an employee to manage their own serious health condition.

Also, because of what FMLA is also intended for, employees can take leave to care for a sick immediate family member who is currently serving as a member of the US military. This type of FMLA leave can be taken for 26 weeks across a rolling 12-month period.

Who is Eligible for FMLA Leave?

The birth of a child for an eligible employee is appropriate for FMLA leave, along with a mother could use FMLA time off for prenatal treatment or ongoing care when the child comes into the world. A father can use FMLA leave to look after a newborn baby child, or perhaps to care for his incapacitated spouse due to the pregnancy or child birth.

Upon an employer’s validation for leave, they might want to distribute their 12 weeks over the course of a year by taking a couple weeks at a time or by lessening their normal working hours in a specific week, also known as intermittent leave. However, when both mom and dad work with the same company, only one may be eligible for pregnancy or child-birth related leave.

At times the pregnancy itself may qualify for FMLA leave as a substantial health condition, particularly when a doctor puts the worker on bed rest at any point while carrying a child. Workers who request pregnancy-related leave could be asked to confirm the serious pregnancy-related complication through medical validation.

Receiving a child through adoption or foster care is a different reason for valid FMLA leave. Workers could take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave up to one year after a child is adopted or brought under foster care by a worker.

Adoption leave could also occur ahead of the actual placement or adoption of a child if an worker’s absence from the job is necessary prior to the placement of the child

– such as to participate in counseling sessions, go to court, or go to a different country to finish the adoption process. The method of obtaining the adopted child is normally not a factor in deciding if the adoption qualifies for FMLA leave.

Workers may ask for leave to care for a close family member with a significant health condition. Under current FMLA polices, only spouses, children, or parents are viewed as close family members. A worker’s in-laws or grandparents, for instance, are not covered.

Furthermore, common illnesses such as catching a cold, getting the flu, earaches and comparable conditions do not qualify for FMLA leave. However some typical illnesses that a doctor deems substantial due to a length, for instance, may be eligible for FMLA leave under certain circumstances.

Often a worker’s own health condition may make them eligible for FMLA leave. For instance, workers who cannot perform their duties because of a substantial illness or persistent health condition may ask for leave to treat the medical condition or obtain prolonged care while under a doctor’s supervision.

Lastly, under FMLA polices, the management of a chronic health condition must take place a minimum of twice in any calendar year and workers may also be asked to show medical validation of their illness.

Proper care of a family member who was wounded while on active duty in the military may make a person eligible for a FMLA leave. Workers may also ask for FMLA leave to handle matters the develop due to a family member’s deployment, such as the care of a service member’s sick child.
After it is established that a worker qualifies for FMLA leave, they must have general FMLA eligibility before leave is approved. This may include having been an employee for the company for a minimum of 12-months and working at least 1,250 hours in the last calendar year.

When a Worker Comes Back

Besides knowing what FMLA leave is and who qualifies, an employer should also know how to handle a worker when they come back from FMLA leave.
Upon coming back from FMLA leave, a worker is eligible for returning to the same position they held when leave began, or to an equal position with equal benefits, pay and other conditions of employment.

If a worker is no longer suitable for their position, the worker shall be given a realistic chance to fulfill any demands of the position that may have lapsed or changed during the leave. The employer’s responsibilities may be dictated by Americans with Disabilities Act if the worker is not able to carry out the job’s duties due to a physical condition. A worker may ask to be put on a different shift, schedule, or position which is more apt to their personal needs on return from FMLA leave. However, a worker cannot be prompted by the employer to just accept another position contrary to the worker’s wishes.

A worker has no greater right to restoration or to other benefits of employment than if the worker had been continuously employed throughout the FMLA leave. If a worker was hired for a specific length of time or only to work on a project, the company does not have an obligation to bring back the worker if the employment term or project is over, and the company would not normally have extended to make use of the worker.

Knowing what FMLA leave is, how it applies to your business, and how to enact policies around to can be a daunting task. Qcera offers a range of software and web-based solutions for companies looking to tackle these responsibilities. Each of these products is back by complete service from the company.