The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, brought about a large change in the workplace as it afforded protected individuals with the right to care for themselves or an immediate relative for up to 12 months without risk of losing their job. While this was a great step for employees, not everyone is qualified for FMLA.
Before considering FMLA leave it’s important to know whether you are one of the many Americans covered under the law. In order to figure this out, you need to know a little something about you and your employer, because you both need to be eligible, or covered, to receive this protection.
Is My Employer Covered by the FMLA?
Your employer is covered if it is a government employer, public school, or any public agency (state, local, or federal), regardless of size. If your employer operates in the private sector, it must employ 50 or more people for at least 20 workweeks in the current or preceding year.
Am I Qualified for FMLA?
Assuming you’ve figured out your employer is covered, (if they aren’t, you are not eligible and it will be up to you to negotiate a leave arrangement that is satisfactory to you and your employer.), there are some minimum qualifications you must meet as well.
In order to establish if you are eligible, ask yourself these questions:
- Have I worked for my employer for at least 12 months (they needn’t be continuous)?
- Have I worked at least 1,250 hours during those 12 months, prior to the start of the FMLA leave (note that vacation and time off is not included in “time worked”)?
- Do I work at a location with at least 50 other employees of my company or are there at least 50 company employees within 75 miles of where I work?
If you answered yes to these questions AND if your employer is covered by the Family Medical Leave Act, you probably qualify for FMLA. If you have any doubts, an employment attorney can help you sort out your questions and understand your protections.
How Can I Use FMLA?
The 12 months allotted for care under FMLA needn’t be taken as full-time leave. Sometimes intermittent leave is the better solution for the employee and you may be able to work a reduced schedule. An example of this is when an employee needs to provide care for a seriously ill family member during certain hours of chemo treatment. Intermittent leave may also be taken to care for a newborn, foster child (with employee approval), or newly-placed adopted child.
In the case of intermittent leave, only the amount of time taken may be charged as FMLA leave. Whole days will only be charged if the entire day is taken, otherwise only the hours apply to the leave.
If you want to know if you’re qualified for FMLA in Florida, or if you were out on approved FMLA leave and were fired upon returning, consult with a Tampa employment attorney at Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. Your initial consultation is free. Call today at (813) 224-0431.