Can I qualify for FMLA leave?

You might be surprised to know that you have the legal right to take time off after you give birth to a baby, after your spouse gives birth to a baby and if someone in your family suffers a serious medical problem that requires your attention.

Although not all employees will have this right, many will under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a federal law that guarantees certain employees as many as 12 weeks off of work, unpaid, annually without the threat of losing their jobs.

Who benefits from the FMLA?

Employees working for employers who fit certain characteristics will receive FMLA benefits. These are employees at public agencies like federal, state, local agencies and schools. Meanwhile, if a private employer has 50 or more workers for 20-plus weeks this year or the last year, then the employees can benefit from FMLA protections.

Which employees are eligible?

It should be noted that not all employees will be eligible to take time off under the FMLA, even if FMLA standards apply to their employers. The employees must work at least 12 months for their employers, and during those 12 months they must have worked at least 1,250 hours before they have the right to take time off. Also, the employee needs to be working at a large office owned by the employer where at least 50 fellow employees are present.

Here are a few reasons that may qualify an employee for benefits:

  • The employee has a serious medical condition.
  • The employee needs to care for a seriously ill family member.
  • The employee or his or her spouse has given birth to a child.
  • The employee has adopted a child or foster care child.
  • The employee's spouse, parent or child has been called to active duty with reserve army forces.

Did your employer refuse to honor your FMLA rights?

It could be a complicated process to determine if your employer has denied your FMLA rights. However, if this has happened in your case, then you will have legal options available to assert and defend your rights to take time off without fear of losing your job.

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