Answers to frequently asked questions about the FMLA
There's a lot of talk these days about the importance of work-life balance. While being a good employee is certainly important, it is just as important to take care of your loved ones and your health when a new child joins the family or when a serious illness strikes.
In fact, taking time off is more than just a good idea - it's your right under federal law.
What is the Family and Medical Leave Act?
The Family and Medical Leave act - commonly referred to as FMLA - protects an employee's right to take unpaid leave from work under certain circumstances:
- To bond with a newborn, adopted, or foster child
- To care for an immediate family member with a serious health concern
- To care for the employee's own serious health condition
FMLA leave can last for up to 12 weeks in any given 12-month period. Employees are entitled to return to their same job, or a "nearly identical" one, once their leave is over. "Nearly identical" jobs must have substantially similar duties and must have the same pay and benefits as the employee's pre-leave position.
Who qualifies for FMLA?
Not every employee qualifies to take FMLA leave. In order to qualify, the employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months, and must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months preceding the start of leave. In addition, the employee must work for either:
- A public employer (e.g., state, local or federal governments, schools or public agencies); or
- A private employer that has 50 or more employees within 75 miles of the employee's location
Does an employee have to give notice to take FMLA leave?
Generally speaking, employees who want to take FMLA leave are supposed to give notice at least 30 days before starting leave, so long as doing so is practical. If the need for leave is not foreseeable 30 days in advance (for example, because of a sudden-onset condition), the employee must give notice as soon as is practical. Employees should follow their employer's normal procedures when giving notice.
What kind of proof can an employer require?
Employers are allowed to ask for proof that the employee or their immediate family member is suffering from a serious medical condition. Usually, this comes in the form of a certification from the patient's care provider.
Employers are allowed to ask for a second opinion if they doubt the validity of the certification. They can also contact the care provider to verify whether the certification is genuine. Employers may not, however, require employees to turn over their medical records, nor can they ask a care provider for medical information beyond that which is provided on the certification form.
What can employees do if they are not being treated fairly?
Employees who have been denied leave, who have had their job taken away while on leave or who have otherwise been treated unfairly for exercising their rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act can turn to an experienced employment law attorney for help. Depending on the circumstances of the case, aggrieved employees may be eligible to receive compensation for lost wages and other financial damages. They may also be eligible for equitable relief such as reemployment after termination or reinstatement into a previously-held position.
Mistreated employees in the Los Angeles area can contact the Law Offices of Todd M. Friedman, P.C. for a free initial consultation. Call 424-285-6006 (877-619-8966 toll free) or email the firm today. You will talk directly with an attorney when you work with the Law Offices of Todd M. Friedman, P.C.