Things you should know about The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 as currently amended in 2010

Things you should know about The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 as currently amended in 2010

  1. What is FMLA?

“FMLA” refers to The Family and Medical Leave Act. FMLA took effect in 1993 and is a United States Federal Law requiring employers to provide employees job protection when taking unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons. “FMLA was intended to balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of families,” states the US Department of Labor on their website.  The US Department of Labor governs FMLA.


  1. How long does FMLA give you to take?

FMLA entitles eligible employees to take unpaid job-protected leave for twelve workweeks in a twelve month period for most things. Things like the birth of a child and child care, adoption and foster care placement, immediate family member care in the case of a serious health condition, a serious health condition of the employee themselves, and any qualifying urgent need arising out of a family member on active military duty.


  1. Who qualifies as an immediate family member?

While some states like Hawaii and Oregon have expanded their definitions of immediate family members to include grandparents and grandchildren, the state of Michigan follows the original FMLA guidelines that state the only immediate family members that count are the employee’s parents, spouse and children.


  1. How am I eligible for FMLA benefits?

Not every employee is eligible for FMLA benefits! To be eligible for FMLA, you first have to check to see if your employer is eligible for FMLA. For your employer to be able to provide FMLA to its employees, it must at have least 50 employees that are employed within 75 miles. If your employer is eligible, then the requirements state employees must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months prior to requesting the leave. And they must also have worked at least 1,250 hours in those 12 months.


  1. Will my job be secured for me to come back to?

Employers are required by FMLA to have a job guaranteed for you when you leave for FMLA, but the job you come back to may not necessarily be the same as the one you left! The Department of Labor states that “an employee must be restored to the employee’s original job, or to an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.” Employers do not have to keep that specific job for you, just a job that is of the same pay grade.


  1. Will I have to provide proof of what I am taking my FMLA for?

Your employer may require proof of any serious health conditions. Your boss is entitled to ask for it and if he or she does you do have to obtain certification from a health care provider, whether or not it is your health in question or a family member. The Department of Labor website states that an employer should request certification at the time you leave or within five business days. It is also legal for the employer to contact and ask your health care provider for authentication – but they are not allowed to ask for anything more than what is contained in the certification.


  1. Will I get any pay during a FMLA Leave?

FMLA doesn’t guarantee any sort of paid leave. Employers can require employees to use paid leave as a part of the FMLA leave, or an employee can even elect to use paid leave that they have accrued. Also, employers are not allow to use FMLA as justification for denying any bonus money you were eligible for before taking FMLA leave.


  1. Can an Employer refuse to grant FMLA leave? And can an Employer cut your leave short?

If your employer is covered for FMLA and you are completely eligible for FMLA as an employee, then under the statute your employer cannot legally deny your request for FMLA. If you fail to provide medical certification of your serious condition, then your employer may be able to cut your leave short.  However if you have provided the proper certification, an employer cannot request that you come back to work. Employers can’t interfere with the rights given under the FMLA.


  1. If I Complain About an FMLA Violation, Can My Employer Fire Me?

No. Employers cannot retaliate against an employee for alleging a violation of FMLA.


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