Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12 month period to care for a serious medical condition, or to help a close family member with a serious medical condition. FMLA provides strong protections to employees who are covered under the law, but not all employees are eligible. If you are considering taking this leave, or an employer has stated that you are ineligible, it is important to know what the requirements are, and if you meet them.
Number of Employees
To be covered by FMLA, you must work for an employer that has a minimum of 50 employees within a 75-mile radius of the place of work. Public agencies that do not have 50 employees are still covered by FMLA. Even when a business qualifies under this requirement, employees must also meet other eligibility requirements.
The number of hours an employee has worked will also affect their eligibility for FMLA leave. Employees must have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours for the same employer in the course of the 12 months prior to taking the leave. Only the hours the employee actually worked are taken into consideration. Sick days, vacations, and other time off is not considered, even if the employee was paid for that time.
Reasons for Medical Leave
Employees can only take FMLA leave for specific reasons. These include:
- To treat and care for their own serious medical condition
- To care for a parent, spouse, or child that suffers from a serious health condition
- To prepare for the birth of a child, or to care for a newborn baby
- The adoption of a child, or to care for a foster child
- To care for a close relative that was injured during active military duty
- To help when an employee transition when they are their spouse is called to active military duty
Requesting FMLA Leave
When asking for FMLA leave from an employer, employees do not have to specifically state that they are requesting leave under the Act. However, there are still some guidelines to follow when asking for this leave. When requesting leave, employees should:
- Provide the employer with enough information that they could reasonably assume the request qualifies for medical leave
- Include the duration of the leave in the written request
- Provide the employer with at least 30 days notice of the leave, or inform them as soon as possible if 30 days is not possible
- Follow all FMLA procedures outlined by the employer, even when they are eligible to take leave
After an employee has provided notice, the employer must inform the employee if they are eligible for medical leave within five business days.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
In April of 2020, new legislation was enacted to help employees who are affected by Covid-19. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) expands the Family Medical Leave Act and changes some of the requirements for employer coverage and employee eligibility.
Were You Denied Leave? Our Ohio Employment Lawyers can Help
Unfortunately, even when employees are qualified to take medical leave, employers do not always agree to it. If you have been denied leave, or you are worried about retaliation because you are requesting leave from your employer, our Columbus employment lawyers at Marshall & Forman, LLC can help. We know the rights of employees in Ohio, and can help hold employers accountable when they violate the rights of employees. Call us today or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys and get the legal advice you need.