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Family & Medical Leave Act

Updated on March 10, 2013
You have a right to leave time if you have a serious illness by law
You have a right to leave time if you have a serious illness by law | Source

Reasons you may need FMLA

We can thank our former President Clinton for signing this act into law back in 1993. Before we had the Family & Medical Leave Act, employers could decide to allow or disallow the benefit of long term leave. In reality, most of us at times have situations that arise that we need to give special attention to. For example, having a new baby, rather giving birth or adoption placing a child in your life is a big reason to take leave.

Other reasons deal with the employee's need to recover from serious illness, millitary deployment, and serious illness of a family member such as: spouse, child up to 18, or a parent. The act also states what guidelines employers must honor such as continuing health insurance coverage that was given prior to the leave.

Eligibility and Protection

In order, to benefit from FMLA, employees must have worked for a covered employer for a year, during that time they have to have worked for at least 1,250 hours. Furthermore the employer must have a minimum of 50 employees working within a 75 miles. If you and your company meet this description during the time you request leave you will be eligible. Employers that deny the right to leave can be sued for their abuse and for breaking the law.

FMLA protects your position allowing you to be reinstated to your job description without penalty. Meaning you will be able to come back to the same spot you left. You will not be demoted or loose your pay rate or benefits such as insurance. Many employers require employees to use the accured paid time during FMLA. So if you know you might need leave in the future for say the birth of a child, you might want to save all your days, so you can recieve checks while you are out.

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My Experience

I am writing this article because as a young person I did not know a lot about my rights to FMLA and while my employer did not deny me the benefit they were not helpful in explaining to me what steps I needed to take to complete the process. Being pregnant with my third child as a teacher, I knew that I would have to leave my job with the due date being in the middle of the school year. However, I had no plans of leaving for good, I wanted to come back to my position. That being said, I wanted to ensure that I told my employer way ahead of time, so that the principal could have a great substitute in place in time. Working for such a large company as I did, I had to ask several questions and meet deadlines for paperwork. If you should ever have to take leave make sure to do the following:

  • As soon as you know you will need it,tell your employer in writing so that they cannot dispute that you told them ahead of time.Employees are required to tell 30 days beforehand or as soon as possible when a reason for leave occurs unexpectedly.
  • Keep a stamped copy or a signed copy of documents that you turn in.
  • Have your doctor fill out certified forms and keep copies that you turn in. When Human Resources say that you are eligible and give you a deadline to turn in paperwork, turn it in before the due date. In my experience, I turned my paperwork in and HR acted as though I did not. I had kept emails and documentation showing when I turned documents in.
  • You can also choose two different forms of leave: continuous and intermittent. Basically, continuous means you will be out the whole time throughout that you are gone, intermittent means you might be in and out, like for treatment you might go every Monday and need Tuesdays off. But you can work normally for the rest of the week. Choosing intermittent protects you if their is a chance you need to miss time once you are initially able to come back to work where as continous means you will be gone for one chunk of time.
  • If you find that your illness or situation will cause you to need more than 12 weeks and that you need to resign, please due so with professionalism. Write your supervisor a resignation letter. But before you do so, contact Human Resources and ask how to go about resigning in a manner that will be a smooth transition for both you and the employer.


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