Know Your Rights Regarding the Family Medical Leave Act

The importance of the Family Medical Leave Act cannot be understated. Enacted in 1993, the law's intention is twofold: to protect people who are dealing with a serious medical situation, and to offer families a chance to better balance work and life.

But it also provides another crucial right to employees; and that is protection from retaliatory acts against someone who uses FMLA leave. Sadly, some employers will take action against people who use FMLA -- demotions, docked pay or even outright firings can meet people who use FMLA. Of course, this is illegal -- but some companies still do it.

Here are a few other rights that people who use FMLA leave have:

  • If you and your spouse have a child, you are entitled to 12 weeks of FMLA leave. Depending on your employer's policy, this leave may be paid or unpaid. You also qualify for 12 weeks of FMLA leave if you adopt or foster a child; if you suffer from a severe medical condition; or if you have a family member who is suffering from a serious medical condition and requires some extra attention.
  • 26 weeks of FMLA leave is possible under more serious circumstances, such as needing to take care of a family member who served in the military, or if you served in the military and need some time off.
  • There are also requirements that need to be met by the individual requesting FMLA leave, so talk to your employer beforehand to ensure you qualify.

Source: US News, "Understanding Your Rights Under FMLA," Lindsay Olson, March 12, 2013