Can I take an FMLA leave and for how long?

If you put family and work on a scale – seeking to achieve that elusive life-work balance – you surely agree it is nearly impossible to achieve. The assumption in even bring up the subject is that the two should somehow be equal. However, if presented with the question of what is most important, we think working Indiana parents would say their family's take precedence.

Unfortunately, the power of the purse is strong. A lot of the leverage is in the hands of employers. While it seems to defy common sense, the United States has no law on the books that guarantees paid time off for workers if they are dealing with a family care situation. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act does provide some workers with some unpaid time off, but if you don't know what rights exist, how can you exercise them?

How FMLA applies in Indiana

First of all, it's important to know that the only law in Indiana is the federal law. That's despite statistics from the Indiana Institute for Working Families indicating that most children under six years old come from households in which all adults work. The institute also estimates that a quarter of all new working mothers take only 2 weeks off after giving birth.

In order to be eligible for job protection under FMLA, a person must:

  • Work for a private company employing at least 50 people or hold a federal, state or local government job.

  • Work at a site where at least 50 others work within 75 miles of your location.

  • Have worked for the employer for at least 12 months. It doesn't have to 12 months in a row, but any break in service longer than seven years disqualifies coverage.

  • Be able to show you worked at least 24 hours a week in the 12 months before taking leave.

The law sets a maximum leave time of 12 weeks, but how long you can take will depend on your employer.

If that leaves you scratching your head, you are not alone. There are forces trying to change the status quo. How the ideas they are exploring will fly with those holding the purse strings remains to be seen. In the meantime, where questions exist, consult an attorney to learn your options.

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