When can workers receive Family and Medical Leave Act benefits?

Have you ever worried about what would happen to your job if you or a family member suffered from a serious illness? Have you ever wondered what would happen to your job if you got pregnant, or if your spouse got pregnant and you needed to take time off to take care of your new baby?

Fortunately, ever since 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives certain employees the option to take unpaid medical leave so they can tend to family-related medical concerns. These FMLA protections apply to employees working for employers with at least 50 workers and to government employees.

What qualifies a worker for FMLA protections?

The FMLA permits workers to take much-needed time off without fear of losing their jobs, and with the ability to return to work for the same employer in -- at the very least -- a similar job to the one they had before. Here are the qualifications that must be met in order for a worker to receive FMLA protection:

  • The employer is a government employer or a private employer with a minimum of 50 workers.
  • The employee has not already taken 12 weeks of time off within a 12-month period.
  • The employee has worked at least 1,250 hours for the employer within a 12-month period.

Here are the valid reasons for taking FMLA leave:

  • The employee is suffering from a serious health issue.
  • The employee's spouse, parent or child is suffering from a serious health issue.
  • A child or foster care child has been brought into the family's home.
  • A new child was born into the family.
  • The employee has a pregnancy-related health condition.
  • An active-duty military parent, child or spouse requires the employee's assistance.

When a worker suffers from retaliation due to taking medical leave

Whether it's overtly stated or not, workers may find that their employers discourage them from exercising their right to medical leave. When these workers demand said leave and suffer retaliatory consequences, like the loss of their jobs or the loss of their positions, they may be able to assert their legal rights by pursuing a claim for compensation.

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