What Situations Qualify For The Family Medical Leave Act?
In this article, you will discover:
- Who is eligible for FMLA leave?
- If you are paid for FMLA leave
- Other types of leave to combine with FMLA
Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), an eligible employee can take up to 12 weeks of leave during any 12-month period for the employee’s own serious health condition, for birth of a child, for a placement or adoption of a child, or for the care of a spouse, child or parent who has a serious health condition.
Firstly, to be eligible for family medical leave, you have to have worked for the employer for at least one year and accumulated 1,250 hours during that 12-month period.
Secondly, to be entitled to FMLA leave, the employee must have a serious health condition that prevents them from performing the essential functions of the job. A serious health condition, as it applies to FMLA, is defined as any illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition involving either inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical facility or ongoing treatment by a healthcare provider.
Lastly, if you are caring for a spouse, parent, or family member, then they must have an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that requires either inpatient care in a hospital or continuing treatment by a medical provider.
Will I Get Paid During FMLA Leave?
Generally, FMLA leave provides unpaid leave. It is unpaid protected leave, meaning that you cannot be terminated and you must be reinstated upon your return after 12 weeks. You still may be able to receive money while you are out on FMLA leave, but that is usually paid through paid time off (PTO) or a benefit program, such as short-term disability. For example, you might take time off of work for maternity leave. Under FMLA, your employer is not required to pay you, but you might be eligible for a short-term disability policy that pays about 60% of your pay. As a general rule though, FMLA provides only unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks.
Can Other Types Of Leave Count Towards My 12-Week FMLA Leave?
Under the FMLA, employers can adopt certain policies requiring their employees to use their accrued paid time off or vacation time during what would otherwise be FMLA leave. For example, when an employee takes 12 weeks leave for a serious health condition, their employer might have a policy in place that requires the employee to exhaust their paid time off (PTO) and then follow it with the FMLA unpaid leave. If the employee has two weeks of PTO, then they will be paid for two weeks and then the other ten weeks will be unpaid FMLA time.
The Department of Labor did issue a finding that employees cannot delay the designation of unpaid leave by using PTO before starting unpaid leave. For example, if you know you will be out for a surgery or other medical condition, you would not be permitted to take two weeks of vacation time and then immediately follow it by 12 weeks of unpaid leave. You would only be allowed the full 12 weeks of leave, with the first two weeks being paid vacation time.