Employment Rights 101: The Family and Medical Leave Act


Posted by: Chris

Sometimes, we need more time off from work than what we are due from vacation and sick time, times when compelling circumstances present us with a need to be away from work, but when we do not want to leave or lose our jobs. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act provides many of us with just that – time off to deal with the necessities of life without the added stress and fear of losing the security of full time employment with benefits.

The benefits conferred by the Family and Medical Leave Act include being eligible to take a total of twelve weeks off work within a 12-month period for certain purposes. The 12 weeks do not have to be consecutive and can be used to take short work days, i.e. working 5 hours instead of 8, or short work weeks, i.e. working 3 days instead of working 5 days.

If your request for time off is for one of the reasons covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, you are eligible to take time without pay and without fear of losing your job. Your employer may require you to use accrued vacation or sick time as part of your time off, but your time off is still protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The Family and Medical Leave Act does not apply to everyone. In order to be covered, you must have worked for your employer for twelve months, though the months do not need to be consecutive. You must have worked for your employer for 1,250 hours within the twelve months that precede the beginning of the leave. You must additionally work for an employer who has at least fifty employees within 75 miles of your work location.

Employers are required to comply with the Act if they meet the minimum requirement of employing fifty or more employees for twenty workweeks within the calendar year. This includes public and private employers.

Benefits under the Act are only available under certain enumerated circumstances:

  1. For the birth of a child, and for bonding with the child;
  2. For the placement of an adoptive or foster child;
  3. For the care of an immediate family member with a serious medical condition;
  4. For medical leave for an employee’s serious health condition;
  5. For qualifying circumstances related to an employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent being called to active duty as a member of the National Guard, Reserves, or Regular Armed Forces.

Life is known for throwing curve balls. Some of them are anticipated, like the birth of a child, while others are not, like a serious medical condition. The Family Medical Leave Act protects an employee when those times present themselves.

If you have been denied your legal rights at work, you need an attorney who knows the law. Contact the attorneys at Armstrong and Vaught, P.L.C. to arrange a free consultation. Call us at (918) 582-2500 or toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online.