Helping Clients Take Extended Medical Leave from Work
If you need to take extended medical leave from work, your rights to unpaid leave are protected under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This act mandates that many workplaces must provide unpaid leave to their employees with the promise of a job when they return to work as long as the employee provides enough notice. Unfortunately, many employers do not know about this law or do not choose to enforce it, which can create stressful and frustrating situations for employees who must now choose between their health and their careers.
If your employer refuses to let you take unpaid leave that you are eligible for under the FMLA, you may be able to take legal action against them for violating federal law. At Riggan Law Firm, LLC, our team of attorneys will review your case to determine if you can pursue legal action. We can also advise you of your rights to help you get unpaid leave from your employer if you still need it. For more information about the FMLA and how it pertains to your situation, contact our attorneys today by calling 314-528-9661.
Who is Covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act?
The FMLA allows employees to take 12 weeks of medical leave every year. However, the FMLA only applies under certain circumstances. The employee must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, although those months do not have to be consecutive. The employee must also have worked at least 1,250 in the past 12 months prior to the medical leave. The employee must also work at a location where the employer has 50 or more employees in a 75-mile radius.
If all these factors are true, the employee can apply for medical leave under the FMLA. Some employers offer more medical leave to attract experienced and qualified applicants for their open positions. Even if the employee is not eligible for FMLA, some employers would rather give them medical leave than force them to quit. Employee turnover is expensive, and it is often much cheaper to retain someone than to hire and train a new employee.
When Does the Family and Medical Leave Act Apply?
If an employee is covered under the FMLA, they must then qualify for a covered event to receive unpaid leave.
The FMLA applies in the following situations:
- The birth of a newborn child
- The adoption or fostering of a new child
- An employee dealing with their own serious health condition
- Providing care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition
- Issues arising from an immediate family member in the National Guard or Armed Services reserve
Any parent, regardless of gender, can qualify for the FMLA for the birth or placement of a new child. If you qualify for the FMLA, your employer must allow you to take this leave. Similarly, your employer cannot retaliate against you when you return to work by using harassment, discrimination, or threats of termination. If you have experienced any negative consequences when attempting to use unpaid leave through the FMLA, you have rights that are protected by law. Our team can help you understand these rights and how they pertain to your situation.
How Does the FMLA Define a Serious Health Condition?
The term “serious health condition” can be vague and may cover many medical conditions in the FMLA. It’s essential to understand what a serious health condition may be if you are attempting to qualify for the FMLA. You may be able to take leave if you are caring for an immediate family member with a serious health condition, like a parent, child, or spouse. You may also qualify for leave if you yourself are dealing with a serious health condition that requires treatment.
The FMLA describes a serious health condition as the following:
- Inpatient care, which is defined as three or more days of incapacity that include two or more doctor visits or one doctor visit and ongoing treatment. The first visit must be within seven days of incapacity, and the second must be within 30 days of incapacity.
- Related to pregnancy or prenatal care.
- Related to restorative surgery or a condition that would result in incapacity if left untreated.
- Chronic health conditions that require treatment at least twice a year.
- Permanent conditions that care may not be effective for.
Does Missouri Law Provide Additional Leave?
The FMLA only provides unpaid leave for 12 weeks. While some states provide additional leave to qualifying employees, Missouri, unfortunately, does not. If you are attempting to take a leave of absence due to medical conditions, the birth or placement of a child, or a situation related to the National Guard or Armed Services reserve, you must rely on the FMLA to provide unpaid leave. In some cases, employers may require you to use vacation days, sick days, or PTO days before taking leave. If you have concerns about taking a leave of absence, contact our team today.
How Can a Family and Medical Leave Attorney Help Me?
Federal regulations require employers to provide employees with unpaid leave if they qualify. Unfortunately, not all employers understand these guidelines, and you may face pushback from managers and supervisors if you attempt to exercise your rights. Our team at Riggan Law Firm, LLC, can help you understand the FMLA and how it pertains to your situation. We can also help you talk to your employer or take legal action against them if necessary. For more information and to learn more about how we can help you, call our office today at 314-528-9661.