Make sure you understand the Family Medical Leave Act.
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides job-protected, unpaid leave under certain circumstances.
Who is eligible for FMLA? Government and private sector employees qualify for FMLA if their employer has at least 50 employees and they have worked for 12 months and 1,250 hours. Ten-month certificated educators in the public school system are eligible for FMLA after their first year of employment (assuming that earned leave was not exhausted).
When may I take FMLA? Assuming eligibility, an employee may qualify for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in any 12-month period for the following reasons:
• The birth of a child;
• The adoption or placement of a child;
• Serious health condition; or
• Serious health condition of a close family member (child, spouse, or parent)
Remember: Most employers require/permit you to use paid leave before going on unpaid leave for the 12-week period. If you don’t return after 12 weeks, you can be terminated unless approved for additional, short-term leave. Communication here is critical — an absence without an appropriate leave status with the employer will result in termination.
What happens to my benefits while on leave? Your group health benefits remain in place during your leave as does your negotiated contribution to your health insurance premium, which you must continue to pay. If you don’t return to work after FMLA leave then you may be liable for the employer’s portion of health insurance premiums paid during your leave.
How do I apply for FMLA? The employer must inform you of your right to FMLA leave if they know you are suffering from a serious personal illness. Otherwise, you must apply for leave and submit appropriate medical documentation 30 days before the requested leave (if possible). Your application doesn’t mean approval — your employer must determine your eligibility and formally approve it. If they require additional medical documentation, it’s up to you to provide it.
Questions? Contact your UniServ director to assist with protecting your employment status during any leave period.