Workers have certain rights under federal laws, including the right to take a leave of absence from work. Maintaining employment is crucial for someone’s financial stability, but there are situations where a person may require an extended leave of absence despite hoping to retain their current employment.
If you have worked for the business for at least a year and the company has at least 50 employees, then you may be able to request unpaid leave from work under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in certain situations. When does the FMLA potentially apply to you?
When you are sick or injured
The FMLA protects those who need to take medical leave. Maybe you need a few weeks off of work to recover from a surgery, or perhaps you need time off of a manufacturing job because of a broken bone or soft tissue injury.
If you have documentation of your need for leave, your employer should allow you time off to recover and not treat you differently afterward. Taking leave under the FMLA allows you to return to the same job when you recover without negative consequences for your employment.
When you need to care for a family member
The FMLA also establishes your right to take unpaid leave to provide care for family members. If your spouse, child or parent has a medical issue that requires support, such as cancer treatment or surgical recovery at home, you can potentially take a leave of absence of up to 12 weeks to provide care for them. If they are a qualifying military service member, you may be able to take up to 26 weeks of leave to assist in their care.
When you have a child
One of the most common reasons that people take FMLA leave is because they add a new member to their family. You can take up to 12 weeks of leave after the birth of a child. FMLA leave also applies to families that adopt or that have a foster child placed in their home.
Provided that your employer and work history meet the requirements for FMLA leave, you should be able to take time off of work and then return to your employment without it affecting your position or your career trajectory. Knowing how employment laws protect you can make it easier to assert your rights.