Employment Law – Family & Medical Leave Act

I found this article relating to Employment Law which I thought may be of interest. So here it is for you

The Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is one of the most frequently contested pieces of employment law that I see in my line of work. Oftentimes, employers totally disregard, or retaliate against the rights of their employees to take paid time off under this law. Unfortunately, many employees do not understand the complicated law laid out in the FMLA, so they may not even know their rights are being violated. The purpose of this article is to answer some of the most common questions about the Family & Medical Leave Act so employees will be able to better exercise their rights in the workplace.

Q.) What is FMLA?

A.) FMLA is a federal law that allows specific employees to take 12 weeks of paid in a 12 month period for various family or medical related reasons. The law lays out specific instances in which the employee may take this paid leave, including: to care for the birth or adoption of a child, care for a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition, and to get better themselves when they have a serious health condition.

Q.) Which employees are allowed to take off time because of FMLA?

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A.) Not all employees are covered by FMLA. In order to be eligible to take time off, an employee has to have worked at least 1,250 hours for the employer over the previous 12 months. If the number of hours worked is disputed by the employer, the onus is on them to show a record of work hours. Different rules apply for public school teachers; if they do not hit the required number of hours, FMLA still covers them.

Q.) Does FMLA apply to employees in all companies?

A.) No. The only companies that are required to abide by the Family & Medical Leave Act are those with more than 50 employees within 75 miles of where you work. This means that if you work for a small business with few employees, you are not covered by this law. There is an exception to this rule, however, if you work for a public agency. Even government workplaces with fewer than 50 employees must give their employees the benefits of FMLA if they qualify.

Q.) What happens if I am on FMLA and the company I work for falls below 50 employees?

A.) Once you are granted leave under FMLA, it cannot be taken away from you even if the company you work for falls under 50 employees during that time.

Q.) Will I still get my normal benefits if I take leave using the FMLA?

A.) Yes. Any benefits that would normally be due to you must continue to be granted if you take time off for the Family & Medical Leave Act. It is also important to note that the law explicitly states that you have the right to maintain the position (or one equal to it) as well as the same pay and benefits once you return to work.

Q.) My spouse and I work at the same company. Can we both get 12 weeks off for the birth of our child?

A.) No. The parents of a newborn child cannot each take off 12 weeks for the birth of a new child if they work for the same company.

If you have been denied FMLA leave, or have been retaliated against for taking it by your employer, you should speak with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible. You are guaranteed these rights under the law, and should seek legal advice if your employer is breaking the law.

Jason Epstein is a partner with employment lawyer Darryl Parker at the Seattle and Bellevue based employment and personal injury law firm Premier Law Group. As a Bellevue employment attorney, Washington labor lawyer, and Seattle employment lawyer, Darryl has fought for the rights of employees for over 20 years.
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