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Can I take FMLA leave?

Taking time away from work for personal days or vacations is something everyone needs from time to time. However, there are times when time away from work is not something you do for pleasure or simply because you can. There are some cases when you need time off to manage extenuating family or medical circumstances.

If you are facing these situations, then you would be wise to understand your eligibility and options for taking leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. To do so, you should be able to answer some basic questions.

Are you eligible?

Before you make any decisions about your options, figure out if you are eligible for FMLA. To be eligible, your employer must be covered (generally employers with at least 50 employees in at least 20 workweeks will be covered) and you must meet certain criteria. You must:

  • Have been at your company for 12 months
  • Have worked at least 1,250 hours during those 12 months

What is the reason for your leave?

FMLA can only be taken for specific reasons, so it is crucial that you ensure the reason for your leave is covered. You can take FMLA:

  • To bond with a newly born child for one year
  • To bond with an adopted or foster child for one year after placement
  • To care for a parent, child or spouse with a serious health condition
  • If you suffer from a serious condition that affects your ability to perform your job
  • In certain situations arising from the military deployment of a spouse, child or parent

Where can you go for help?

Your employer should provide you with information on FMLA options and procedures and notify you if your reason for taking a leave qualifies for FMLA or not. 

However, if you have additional questions, or if you feel your employer has violated your rights and/or wrongfully denied leave, then you can discuss your case with an attorney. Knowing your legal rights and how you can protect them can help you take care of yourself and your family during times of significant change without worrying about losing your job.

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