As a business owner or manager, you rely on your staff to show up for their job and perform the tasks that you pay them to complete. Reliable attendance is one of the most important characteristics for an employee. However, there are situations where an otherwise wonderful employee may need to take an extended leave from the company.
The business may already have certain policies in place about paid leave and paid time off when someone has to make an extended request for leave. However, in specific circumstances, employees may be entitled to unpaid leave of as long as 26 weeks in a single year under the Family and Medical Leave Act. When will those rules apply to your business?
The company has to have enough workers
In order for your company to have an obligation to comply with the FMLA, it needs to either be a public business or have at least 50 employees within 75 miles of the location that employs the staff member requesting leave.
The worker has to have been with the company for long enough to qualify
In order to receive FMLA leave in an appropriate situation, a worker will have had to have worked with your company for at least 12 months. They will have had to have clocked at least 1,250 hours during the last year as well.
How much leave can a worker take?
For most applicants, FMLA leave will include up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in qualifying circumstances. However, those who must take FMLA leave to care for a loved one who served in the military may qualify for up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave in order to fulfill that familial obligation.
What circumstances qualify for FMLA leave?
Not every personal or family situation entitles a worker to extended leave. The death of a family member, for example, does not qualify for leave under the FMLA. However, having a child, adopting a child or securing foster placement all qualify someone for FMLA leave.
The same is true for individuals who must take time off of work in order to recover after an accident or medical procedure and those who must provide medical care for a loved one such as a parent, spouse or child.
Your obligations to a worker taking leave
Once you have reviewed an FMLA leave request and determined that it is valid, you will have to allow the worker to take the necessary time off of work and then permit them to return to the same job or a comparable one at the same rate of compensation when the leave ends. Terminating a worker for requesting FMLA leave is retaliation and could result in legal action by the employee involved.