Like many U.S. employees, you may find there are times when it is difficult to balance your work obligations with your family responsibilities.
You may be planning for a new child or you may have a loved one with a serious health condition that requires extra assistance. You might worry that taking time off to provide needed care would put your job at risk. However, federal law offers certain protections for some types of workers who need extra time to care for family members.
1. What is the Family and Medical Leave Act?
The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law that may allow you to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave to care for a family member in need. If you have accrued family leave, sick days or vacation days, your employer can require you to use that time during the period you are away.
2. Who is eligible for FMLA leave?
To qualify for FMLA leave, you must work for an employer that has a certain minimum number of employees, is a public agency, or is either a public or private elementary or secondary school. You must also have worked for the same company for at least 12 months.
3. What are examples of qualifying family conditions?
Examples of qualifying family circumstanced under the FMLA include:
- The birth, adoption or foster placement of a child with your family
- A serious health condition that impacts a spouse, child or parent
- A serious health condition that prevents you from performing your job
Importantly, it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for taking advantage of your leave rights under the FMLA. If your employer tries to prevent you from taking needed time off, you may want to file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor.