In New York, the hustle and bustle and competitiveness of the business world can make it easy for employers to forget that there are other aspects of life to which employees wish to pay attention. When one of these instances arises, a worker may need to use the Family and Medical Leave Act. Federal and state employment regulations are in place to protect workers via the FMLA, but acquiring a better understanding of the facts about the FMLA can avoid any missteps and provide a basis to either file or defend a case if the law is believed to have been violated.
The FMLA allows employees who are eligible and covered to take unpaid leave for family or medical necessity without having to fear losing their job. They can even retain coverage under their health insurance plan and the guidelines will remain the same as if the worker did not take the leave. Under the law, employees are allowed to take twelve workweeks off within one year. Suitable reasons for taking leave include the birth of a child and the need to care for that child within one year of birth; a child being adopted or accepted as a foster child within one year of the placement; to take care of an ill child, spouse or parent; or to deal with a health issue that leaves the employee unable to fulfill his or her duties to the job.
The law also allows for time off if the employee has a close relative - parent, child or spouse - who is a member of the military and on active duty. It is also allowed to receive six months worth of workweeks off in a one year period to care for a member of the military who has a severe injury or illness. This is called military caregiver leave.
While the law is relatively clear when it comes to taking leave for these reasons, there can occasionally be confusion for employers and employees as to what rights they have, the eligibility for leave, and whether or not they can keep their jobs or replace an employee if there is a dispute. Speaking to an attorney experienced in contracts, employment law, and employment litigation can be beneficial in understanding how the FMLA is applied and what to do if it is violated.
Source: United States Department of Labor, "Family and Medical Leave Act," accessed on June 16, 2015