4 things to do at work before an upcoming surgery

Nurse filling out a form on clipboard and wearing stethoscope

Your surgery may qualify under Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Are you about to go through with an upcoming surgery? Then now is the time to get up to speed on your employee rights regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

It’s important that both the employee and employer communicate about the need for time off or “leave” before the date of a medical procedure. First, an employee must figure out if they are qualified to take FMLA leave, then, it’s important to document leave with the employer.

Here’s what you should do at work before surgery:


1. Find out if you qualify for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave.

Employees who work for a private-sector employer that has 50+ employees within a 75 radius—who have been working there for at least 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours—can take up to 12 weeks off in a 12-month period. This time is unpaid, and your employer may require you to use your vacation and paid time off time first.

Understand the Types of FMLA Leave: There are two types of FMLA leave that you may be eligible for Continuous FMLA leave and intermittent FMLA leave. Continuous FMLA leave is when you take off a block of time, like 12 weeks in a row, due to your surgery. On the other hand, intermittent FMLA leave is when you take off time sporadically – such as a few days or hours at a time – due to your medical condition.


2. Tell your employer, and give them medical documentation, such as a doctor’s note, if requested.

Given your right to confidentiality as a patient, it is not required that you expose the details of your surgery to your employer. However, it will be much easier to avoid misunderstandings if you inform your employer that you will be absent from work on a specified day. If you plan to take advantage of your right to leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), then your employer will need to know of your need for medical or family leave. The employer may request documentation to support your need for leave (and your ability to return to work), and it is very important to comply with proper requests within the specified time, or you may lose your rights under the FMLA.

Get Written Confirmation: Once you’ve provided your employer with the necessary medical documentation and they’ve approved your FMLA leave, request written confirmation. This will serve as your proof and assurance that they have acknowledged and approved your leave.


3. Even if you do not qualify for FMLA leave, you may be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Under the ADA, employees with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations. In this case, you might be entitled to a reasonable amount of time off for your surgery.

Know the Limitations of the ADA: While the ADA provides protection and requires reasonable accommodation, it does not cover all medical conditions. A “disability” under the ADA is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.


4. Call an attorney experienced in employment law.

Whether you are the one undergoing surgery or need to be a caregiver for a family member who is, understanding the nuances of the FMLA and ADA is essential to protecting your employment rights.  The process can seem complex and intimidating, but with the right information and guidance, you can navigate through it effectively. And if you think your employer is violating the law, you may be entitled to remedies.

Have you been denied your rightful FMLA leave? Are you unsure about your rights under the ADA? Don’t face these challenges alone. Get the support you need from Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A., experts in employment law.

Contact us today for a consultation, and let us advocate for your rights. Remember, you are not alone in this fight!

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