Some Common FMLA Questions in Columbus
For the most part, employers hate the Family Medical Leave Act. They may talk about a family-friendly workplace that emphasizes work-life balance, but for the most part, that is just talking. Employers want people who come to work regularly and are focused on their jobs when they are there.
Given this animosity, it is important that workers know some of the basic parameters under the FMLA.
Do I Get My Job Back When I Come Back to Work?
The FMLA keeps employers from firing employees when they take time off to care for sick family members and a few other reasons. However, it does not guarantee that their old jobs will be waiting for them when they return. Under the law, a returning FMLA worker “must be restored to the employee’s original job, or to an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.”
As one can imagine, there is a considerable dispute as to what constitutes an “equivalent” position. The word obviously does not mean “exactly the same” conditions, or else the law would not include this provision. The amount of leeway an employer gets is largely a case-by-case inquiry.
Must I Provide Documentary Evidence?
Yes and no. This question is quite complicated. Within five days, an employer can ask a medical provider about such evidence. Then, the employee has 15 days to provide such proof. The employer also has the right to contact the provider directly, but only to provide clarification or other such assistance.
The issue is even more complicated because of privacy and anti-discrimination laws. Providers can only disclose certain information to third parties, like employers. Moreover, it is illegal for employers to base decisions on a physical, mental, or other disability. This prohibition applies whether the employee has FMLA leave or not. So, be sure that your boss does not try to use this power as a “back door” to defeat FMLA leave.
What are the Three Covered Circumstances?
This question may be the biggest one. FMLA unpaid leave applies in the following situations:
- Serious Illness: This illness could be the worker’s condition, or it could be a close relative’s condition. FMLA time includes rest and recuperation after an injury, attending doctor’s appointments, and any other activities related to the condition.
- Military Deployment: This issue comes up quite frequently with regard to a loved one’s deployment. For example, if a husband has National Guard duty for two weeks, a wife may need to leave early to pick up children from school.
- Maternity/Paternity Leave: Many companies get in trouble because their paternity leave is much shorter than their maternity leave. New moms can get additional time to recover from childbirth, but the time allowed for bonding must be the same for both mothers and fathers.
FMLA leave can be intermittent. To return to the first bullet, many people have good days and bad days as they recover from illness or injury. Moreover, sometimes these individuals try to “tough it out” only to find out that they simply do not have the strength and they must go home and rest. FMLA leave usually covers these events. That is the main reason employers dislike it so much.
Work With a Tenacious Attorney
Your FMLA leave helps you be a better worker, but many employers do not see it that way. For a confidential consultation with an experienced employment law attorney in Columbus, contact Marshall & Foreman LLC. We usually do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.