Five myths every employee should know about FMLA

Caring for a sick family member is one of the most difficult tasks a person can experience. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) lets employees take time off to care for a family member with a serious medical condition or because of their own serious medical issues. The FMLA also gives time off to care for a newborn child, foster care placement or adopted child.

While the FMLA entitles employees to certain rights and protections, there are restrictions. Many employees can misunderstand the limits of the FMLA and what it covers. Here we will cover these myths and tell employees what they can do if they experience issues with FMLA leave.

Here are five common misconceptions that workers can have about FMLA leave.

  • There are no limits for time off: Employee can generally only take up to 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave over a 12-month period. Family members who are caring for a covered military service member may be able to take up to 26 weeks of FMLA leave.
  • All employees can take leave: A person can take FMLA if they work at least 1,250 hours for the same covered employer for at least 12 months. Private sector employers must offer FMLA leave if they have 50 or more employees working within a 75-mile radius.
  • Workers on leave must receive pay: The law does not make employers pay employees who take FMLA leave. Some employers may allow workers to use their sick, vacation and/or family leave time while taking FMLA leave.
  • Workers must use their leave all at once: A person who takes FMLA time off does not have to consecutively use the time. Workers can space out FMLA leave as the situation requires and as long as they do not go over the maximum time. In some cases an employer may reassign a worker to a different role to accommodate the leave.
  • Any medical condition can qualify: To request FMLA leave, the requester or their family member must have a serious health condition. The FMLA defines these conditions as an injury or illness that lasts longer than a few days and requires treatment from a health care provider. Employers can request a doctor's certificate to prove the validity of an injury.

What to do if you run into a FMLA problem

You should speak with an employment law attorney if your employer unlawfully denies your FMLA leave request or if you experience adverse actions because of your time off. An experienced lawyer can review the specifics of your case and fight for your best interests.

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