Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) applies in all cases. FMLA entitles eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. That does not imply paid leave which would be at the discretion of your employer. It does mean that the employer is required to allow you to take up to 12 weeks of leave in a year. That time does not have to be consecutive. A letter from your doctor is usually sufficient to qualify for leave for medical reasons.
FMLA is a good place to start if you are having trouble making it to work some days. Let your employer, both supervisor and human resources, know what is going on with you and that you may need to take a periodic leave. Talking to your human resources representative is not “going over your supervisor’s head”. You should definitely talk to your supervisor first, but HR will understand the legal obligations of the company better than your supervisor and will provide you with appropriate job protection. A word of caution is that they are not often your “friend,” but they will be fair. In a case like this it is better to be up front about your condition rather than for your situation to be represented as a performance issue.

Employee pre-qualifications for FMLA:

  • Worked for a covered employerr
  • Employed for at least 12 months
  • Worked at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 months

Covered Employers include:

  • government agencies
  • schools
  • all companies with 50 or more employees

Other important provisions

  • Employers may require that you use all your paid time off (vacation and sick leave) as part of FMLA
  • Employers are not required to offer paid leave as part of FMLA
  • Employees are not required to take leave for the full 12 consecutive weeks
  • Employees caring for an injured servicemember are eligible for up to 26 weeks leave

For more information on FMLA, visit the Family and Medical Leave Act page at the US Department of Labor website.