If you need to request time off to care for yourself or a family member, you may be eligible for protections under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Only eligible employees receive these protections, but these employees are able to return to their previous position after the leave.
Eligible employees have specific rights outlined by the FMLA, and employers must respect them.
Eligibility for FMLA protections
Benefits.gov outlines the eligibility requirements for FMLA protections. Government employees are eligible, as are employees of private companies who employ a minimum of 50 individuals within a 75-mile radius of the employee’s job site. An eligible individual must have been an employee for at least one year and have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months.
If an employee is eligible, he or she may take up to 12 weeks of job protected, unpaid leave to deal with a serious health condition, care for an immediate family member with a health condition, care for a newborn or newly adopted child or deal with an emergency related to an immediate family member covered by the military.
Employee rights under the FMLA
Eligible employees have a variety of protections.
Right to return to a similar position
The Department of Labor discusses that the employee has a right to return to the same job or one with similar duties and equivalent pay.
Right to maintain health insurance
During the employee’s leave, the employer must continue health insurance coverage as long as the employee continues to pay any necessary premiums, if applicable.
Right to medical privacy
The employee must give the employer enough information to make a determination if it qualifies for FMLA protections. However, the employee does not need to give details about a medical diagnosis. An employer may, however, request a medical certification.