The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) protects the jobs of employees who need to take time off from work as a result of their own serious medical conditions; to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, or parent; or for the birth or adoption of a baby.
Serious health conditions are defined by the Act as a condition requiring in-patient care at a medical facility or continued treatment by a health care provider. The first prong of the definition is self-explanatory. However, the “ongoing treatment by a healthcare provider” language is a little less intuitive. It is clear that Congress intended the FMLA to be read broadly to cover all health conditions that legitimate require employees to be absent from work on a on a recurring basis or for more than a few days. In most cases, if an employee is unable to work three days or more, has sought medical care, and either has future appointment or ongoing treatment, the condition should qualify for FMLA protection.
Employees who are eligible for leave under the FMLA may take up to 12 weeks medical leave per year. The leave does not have to be continuous. If for example, an employee has a health condition that is episodic or periodically disabling, they may take FMLA leave on an “intermittent” basis. Employees jobs are protected while they are on leave. After returning from FMLA leave, an employer must return the employee to her or his position or an equivalent position. Further, an employer cannot consider FMLA protected leave as a factor in termination decisions.
Several important requirements limit the situations covered under the FMLA. For the most part the factors derive from the understanding that it is far less of a burden on larger businesses to accommodate medical leave than for very small businesses. To qualify for protected family or medical leave:
- The employer must have 50 or more employees;
- The employee must have been employed for at least twelve months; and
- In those twelve months, the employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours for the employer.
Requesting FMLA leave
If the employee is aware in advance that they will need FMLA leave (e.g., pregnancy or adoption) the employee must notify the employer at least thirty days in advance. Often, medical conditions arise quickly and the need is not known thirty days in advance. In these situations the FMLA requires employees to notify the employer “as soon as To invoke FMLA protections, employees must provide information to their employer that enables the employer to determine if the FMLA applies. In addition, employers may requests a doctor’s certificate. While FMLA is unpaid leave, you may use paid vacation or sick time during an FMLA protective leave if you have any available. Employers can also require you to exhaust sick days and vacation days as part of your leave.
If you believe that your company has violated the FMLA or you have been wrongfully terminated for exercising your FMLA, it is important to contact a knowledgeable Kentucky FMLA attorney as soon as possible, as there are time limitations. Our attorneys handle all types of employment discrimination cases in Kentucky and have extensive experience handling FMLA claims.