When you or someone you love is experiencing a serious health problem and it requires you to take extended time off from work, the stress and worry about retaining employment can add unnecessary difficulties to an already difficult situation. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can often help employees in this situation. If you are unable to work because of a serious health problem or if you need to take time off from work to care for a loved one who is experiencing a serious health condition, the FMLA provides unpaid, job-protected leave to employees of covered companies.
The FMLA provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to employees of covered companies who are experiencing a qualifying circumstance. The leave may be taken all at once or intermittently, depending on the needs of the employee requesting leave.
When you need to take long-term FMLA medical leave, you need to provide your employee with notice. If you are aware that you will need to schedule leave in advance (for example if it is due to a scheduled surgery or a pregnancy), you should offer your employer 30 days advance notice. If you learn of the need to schedule time off work with less than 30 days notice, you should notify your employer as soon as possible. In some situations, such as a car accident or other accident resulting in serious injury, an employee has no opportunity to provide advance notice for FMLA leave.
When an employee needs FMLA leave unexpectedly, they must inform their employer about the situation as soon as they can. When providing notice, you should use your employer’s normal procedures unless you are unable to do so. In these cases, the situation is often unclear at first and then evolves into a long-term leave that qualifies for FMLA. Don’t worry about classifying the leave as FMLA immediately if it isn’t clear. You do not have to specifically ask for FMLA leave for your first leave request, but you do need to offer your employer enough information to be aware that the situation may be covered by the FMLA. After the situation has been approved for FMLA leave and you need to take more time off (i.e. care and/or recovery, regular appointments for physical therapy, recurring migraines, etc.). the request should mention the conditions or the need for FMLA leave, and reasonable and definite leave beyond 12 weeks may be covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act if the leave is for the employee’s own condition and the condition qualifies as a disability.
If you don’t offer your employer enough information and they aren’t aware that the leave could be covered by the FMLA, your leave may not be protected. To be clear, you do not need to provide your employer with an exact medical diagnosis, but you do need to offer them enough information to indicate that your leave is due to an FMLA-protected condition.
If you are having trouble getting long-term FMLA medical leave or if you have been denied job-protected status, please get in touch with the experienced FMLA attorneys at Atlanta’s Barrett & Farahany. We do things differently; justice at work is not only our profession, it’s our passion.