The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, or FMLA, 29 U.S.C. 2601 et seq., is one of the important federal laws designed to protect the job security of workers faced with difficult personal circumstances. Employers and employees in Las Vegas should take the time to understand what the FMLA covers, and its limitations.
The FMLA applies only to certain employers and employees
The FMLA’s rules apply to all public agencies and private employers who had at least 50 employees for at least 20 workweeks in the current or previous year. To be eligible for FMLA benefits, an employee of one of the covered employers must have been employed for at least 12 months, consecutively or otherwise, and worked at least 1,250 hours during that time before taking leave. The employee’s job also needs to be at or within 75 miles of a location with at least 50 employees.
When can an employee take leave under the FMLA?
The FMLA requires covered employers to grant up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave each year to qualified employees when their circumstances fall within one of five situations:
- A serious medical condition prevents the employee from working.
- An immediate family member of the employee has a serious medical condition that requires the employee’s care. Note that “immediate family” includes only blood relatives; relatives by marriage are not covered. Also bear in mind that time off to care for an adult child is only covered if has a serious disability that renders the child unable to care for him or herself.
- The employee’s child is born, or the employee needs to take time to care for his or her newborn child.
- The employee needs time for the placement or care of an adopted or foster care child.
- The employee’s spouse, child, or parent who requires the employee’s care for a serious injury or illness is a member of the military, including in an active role for the National Guard or as a reservist. In this circumstance, the FMLA requires employers to allow up to 26 weeks of leave.
The FMLA doesn’t require paid leave, but protects the employee’s job
A central feature of the FMLA is that it prohibits employers from making any employment decisions based only on an employee’s decision to take FMLA leave. This includes firing or demoting the employee, or changing the employee’s job responsibilities. The FMLA also protects employees from retaliation if they file a complaint abut an employer’s violation of the law.
Another important feature of the FMLA is that it does not require employees to pay their employees who are on leave. Some employers offer paid FMLA leave as an incentive, but a more common practice allows employees to draw down their accumulated paid time off (PTO) while on leave. An employer can require its employees to use their PTO for FMLA leave, but to do so it must first provide ample notice of the requirement.
Injury and FMLA leave
The relationship between FMLA leave and other types of leave often leads to confusion. One example of this is when a worker is forced to take time off work due to a work-related injury and the employee has rights under workers’ compensation laws as well as the FMLA. In such circumstances. employers are required to provide whichever law’s benefits are greater. Workers’ compensation laws require a wide range of benefits, including some paid leave and medical reimbursement, but employers typically can also draw down the employee’s annual FMLA leave allotment while the employee is off work on a workers’ comp claim.
GGRM can help you understand the FMLA
Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped Las Vegas employees protect their rights for more than 45 years. If you are faced with difficult circumstances and have questions about how the FMLA affects your rights, our experienced team of attorneys is here to help. For a free consultation reach out to us today at 702-388-4476, or contact us through our website.