The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) generally applies to private-sector employers with 50 or more employees within 75 miles of an employee’s work location.
If you work for a private-sector employer with less than 50 employees within a 75-mile radius, you are not covered by FMLA. Here are a few other reasons why an employee wouldn’t be protected under the Family Medical Leave Act:
- you’ve worked for your current employer less than 12 months (If you have worked for them for more than 12 months, they do not have to be consecutive to be counted, but the break in service cannot exceed 7 years.)
- you have less than 1,250 hours of work performed during those 12 months.
The FMLA allows you to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per calendar year (or other year term according to your employer). However there are stipulations behind what it may be used for even if you meet the above requirements.
What FMLA Covers and What it Doesn’t
FMLA leave may be used for:
- the birth or placement of a child. You may not take leave without extenuating circumstances, such as illness or disability, after that first year.
- an extended block of leave, or Intermittent time off , unless your employer grants otherwise.
- taking care of a spouse, child, or parent. It does not cover other relationships such as significant other, grandparent, distant relative, neighbor, pet, or friend, unless approved by your employer on special grounds.
FMLA is not a Sabbatical
The Family Medical Leave Act covers the need for caring for a close relative or oneself. It cannot be used for mental breaks (outside of a doctor’s care) for fun activities such as vacations, cultural exchanges, hobbies and other occurrences. FMLA is not a sabbatical.
Vacation Time and Salary
While FMLA protects your job and ensures you have one upon your return (and it does not affect your ability to be eligible for promotions), FMLA is unpaid leave. It does not cover medical costs while you’re out or provide you with any sort of supplemental income. Many people use vacation and sick time while out on FMLA, whether at their own insistence or that of their employer. If you do, know that your leave is still protected under FMLA.
Medical and Certification Costs
While you are eligible for health benefits during your unpaid leave, those costs are not covered under FMLA. This means you will be covering them out-of-pocket in a check to your employer or benefits provider.
If your employer requests medical certification as part of your leave application, the cost (if any) of the certification is not covered by FMLA or your employer. You will be responsible for it.
If you or your family needs extensive care, your job may be protected under the Family Medical Leave Act. If you’re unsure whether you’re covered under FMLA, or your FMLA was approved and then you were terminated upon return, contact someone who can help. Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. has aided thousands of Floridians in navigating the tides of employment law.
Contact us today for a free consultation at 813-579-2483.