The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) aims at protecting workers through illness, pregnancy and other such conditions. Essentially, it makes sure that companies recognize that workers are people with lives outside of work and thus have certain protections if they need to step away from their jobs for a short time.

That said, the FMLA does not guarantee that workers will get paid while off work for personal reasons. The time off can be unpaid, even when it’s for weeks on end. If the Act doesn’t protect your income, what does it do?

There are a few major advantages. First off, it gives the workers “job-protected leave” if they’re eligible. When they come back, the company has to give them their job back. The company can’t simply fire them and replace them while they’re away. This is true even if the company has to hire a temporary worker to take on that employee’s duties during the break.

The act also makes sure that employees have health insurance while they’re away. The employer cannot use the gap in work to cancel the employer-sponsored insurance, especially since this is likely a time when the employee needs that insurance the most.

Of course, many company owners would never have considered firing their workers or cutting their health insurance after the birth of a child or some other qualifying event. This act just gives them a legal mandate to do so, giving employees peace of mind during a taxing event. You don’t have to count on your employer’s goodwill.

Do you think that your employer violated the FMLA in some way? If so, you need to know all of the legal steps you can take.