If you are suffering from a serious illness, or you need to care for a family member that is, you may be able to take a break from your job and return to the same position after a period of time. This benefit falls under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Not everyone is eligible for job protection under FMLA. However, if you are, your employer may not punish you for taking the approved unpaid leave.
According to Benefits.gov, to be eligible to receive FMLA benefits, you must either work for the government or for a private company that employs a minimum of 50 people. You must also have worked at the company for a minimum of 12 months and for a minimum of 1250 hours in the last year.
Entitlements under FMLA
Eligible employees must also have a situation that falls under FMLA benefits. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, an employee can take up to 12 weeks off during a 12-month period to:
- Recover from a serious health issue
- Care for a newborn child
- Care for a newly placed foster or adopted child
- Care for a parent, spouse or child who is suffering from a serious health issue
- Deal with an emergency that relates to a covered family military member who is on active duty
A covered employee can take up to 26 weeks off to care for a covered military member that is a spouse, parent or child and has a serious illness or injury.
The time away from work is unpaid, but the employer must reinstate the employee to his or her previous job upon return. Healthcare benefits also continue during this unpaid leave as long as the employee continues to pay his or her share of the coverage.