Caring for a newborn, tending to an ailing family member or managing a chronic illness can greatly impact your capacity to engage in both full-time and part-time work. It is only right that you can take a leave of absence from work to attend to these important life situations. In such cases, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can be what you need. Here are the rights you need to understand before applying.
The Family and Medical Leave Act is a benefit passed by Congress in 1993 that allows qualified employees to receive up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave for specified medical and family reasons. These reasons include the birth or adoption of a child, caring for a seriously ill family member or dealing with your own serious health condition. The purpose of FMLA is to help employees balance their work and personal responsibilities while protecting them from losing their jobs.
Eligibility for FMLA
Under employment law, not all employees can receive FMLA benefits. The first eligibility requirement is working for a company with 50 or more employees living within 75 miles of the worksite. Additionally, you must have offered your services as an employee for at least 12 months, working at least 1,250 in the year before your FMLA leave. Part-time workers may also be eligible for FMLA if they meet the hourly and length of service requirements.
Your rights under FMLA
If you meet the eligibility criteria, you can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within 12 months. During your leave, your employer must maintain your health benefits as if you were actively working.
Upon the conclusion of your leave, you also have the right to return to the same job or an equivalent position. This means you should receive the same pay, benefits and job responsibilities as before your leave.
The Family and Medical Leave Act is a powerful tool providing peace of mind for Texas workers facing inevitable ups and downs. It’s essential to remember that applying for FMLA benefits is a legal right, not a privilege, and you should never feel apprehensive about using this crucial benefit.