The Family and Medical Leave Act permits employees to take up to a 12-week leave of absence from work when a family or medical matter makes it necessary to do so. The time away from work is unpaid and is not to affect either the job status or ability to continue with group medical insurance plans for the employee.
The FMLA is specific regarding the protections that it provides to workers. These protections include the following:
• Employers are not allowed to interfere or deny any attempts of an employee to exercise the FMLA rights afforded to them.
• Employers are not permitted to show any form of discrimination or retaliation against an employee who chooses to exercise their FMLA rights.
• Employers are prohibited from delivering any type of punishment to an employee who complains about a company’s FMLA compliance.
• Employees are prevented from FMLA retaliation against employees who take formal action to settle an FMLA dispute with the company for which they work.
The Family and Medical Leave Act applies to all public agencies, secondary and elementary schools operated both publicly and privately, and any company that employs 50 or more workers. These employees are allowed 12 weeks of unpaid leave annually for any of the following reasons:
• The birth of a child
• Adoption of a child
• Providing care for an immediate family member suffering from a serious injury
• The employee suffers from a serious health condition
The responsibility for enforcing FMLA regulations falls to the Wage and Hour Division. The division investigates employee complaints and works with both sides of the dispute to resolve the problem. When a resolution is not possible, the Department of Labor may apply pressure to the employer through legal action.
Workers in America enjoy the right to take some time away from work to address family medical issues. Individuals who become involved in a dispute with their employer regarding this right may find an easier path to a solution by speaking with an employment law attorney.