The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that offers eligible workers job-protected leave for family or medical reasons. It allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period.
The FMLA applies to employers with 50 or more employees within 75 miles of the employer’s location. The law is intended to help employees take needed time away from work, while still supporting the company’s operations.
If the employee qualifies for FMLA for reasons like the birth or adoption of a child or their own or a family member’s serious health condition, for example, the employer must allow the employee to return to the same or equal position when they come back from leave. The employer is also usually required to retain the employee’s health benefits during leave.
Unfortunately, sometimes employers violate the employee’s rights. They must notify employees about how to request FMLA leave and must grant the leave if the employee qualifies.
Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees for taking FMLA leave. Retaliation may include taking adverse employment action against the employee, like termination or demotion. The employee also cannot interfere with the employee’s FMLA rights by discouraging them from taking FMLA or threaten employees to prevent them from exercising their rights.
The employer must keep FMLA leave records, which are subject to inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor.
If an employee believes their FMLA rights were violated, they can file a complaint or can pursue legal action against their employer. Remedies may include being reinstated to their previous position.