If you need to care for a family member or are experiencing a serious health condition, you may be assuming that you can take time off from work under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). While this option may be available for some, FMLA does not cover every employee in every situation.
How to Tell if Your Job Qualifies
Private employers must offer FMLA if they have employed more than 50 employees (excluding independent contractors) for 20+ weeks over the last year. Schools and public agencies must offer FMLA, regardless of size.
Even if your employer qualifies for FMLA, your position may not qualify. FMLA staff must work within 75 miles of the organization. If you work at a satellite office that is more than 75 miles from the organization, you cannot apply for FMLA. And, while part-time workers can apply for FMLA, they must work for 24 or more hours a week. If you work less, you may not be eligible.
Finally, you can only become eligible for FMLA after working for a total of 12 months. This does not have to be 12 consecutive months. So if you work seasonally for an employer, and have a total of 12 non-consecutive months of employment history, you can still apply for FMLA.
How to Tell if Your Situation Qualifies for FMLA
After you have determine that your job qualifies, you must still make sure that your specific situation allows you to take this type of protected leave. Situations that qualify for FMLA include:
- Your own serious health condition (not all health conditions are covered)
- Serving as caregiver for a child, parent, or spouse with a serious health condition
- New child leave (both biological and fostered/adopted children qualify)
- Qualifying exigency leave, for spouses who are called to military duty
- Military caregiver leaves (this includes additional family members beyond children, spouse, and parents)
If you qualify for the Family and Medical Leave Act by job and situation, then your employer should accept your FMLA application. If you encounter a problem applying for FMLA, we recommend you seek legal consultation. At May, Potenza, Baran and Gillespie, we can help you with any questions you may have.
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