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The FMLA Protects Employees' Jobs When They Need to Take Unpaid Leave

Before someone gets to the point of filing for disability benefits through their employer or through the Social Security Administration, they must often deal with whether they will lose a job due to the effects of a serious medical condition. What are your rights under existing law if you have a serious medical condition? Are you entitled to any unpaid leave? What should you do if that leave runs out? Do you qualify for any disability benefits? Call the attorneys at Keller & Keller to find out.

What Is the Family and Medical Leave Act?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was signed into law on August 5, 1993 by President Bill Clinton. The FMLA is a labor law requiring larger employers to provide employees unpaid leave for serious health conditions, to care for a sick family member, or to care for a newborn or adopted child.

Is Your Employer Covered by FMLA?

FMLA does not cover all employers. It only applies to public agencies, including state, local, and federal employers as well as local education agencies or schools. It also only applies to any private sector employer who employs 50 or more employees for at least 20 workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year.

Are You Eligible for FMLA?

FMLA also does not cover all employees. It only covers those who work for a covered employer and who also (1) have worked for that employer for at least 12 months (2) have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of FMLA leave and (3) work at a location where at least 50 employees are employed or within 75 miles of such location. If you have questions about whether you qualify for FMLA, contact your employer’s human resources department.

What Rights Do You Have Under FMLA?

An eligible employee working for a covered employer is entitled to up to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave each year if they are unable to work due to a “serious health condition.” A covered employer is required to maintain group health insurance coverage for an employee on FMLA leave on the same terms as if the employee continued to work, but the employee may be required to continue paying premiums in order to keep coverage. Upon return from FMLA leave, an employee must be restored to his or her original job, or to an “equivalent” job in terms of pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions.

If FMLA Is Not Enough, What Can You Do?

If you are unable to return to work when your FMLA expires, you may be terminated from employment. But some people may qualify for paid leave if their employer provides such insurance coverage. Employers generally offer both short term disability plans and long term disability plans. It is not uncommon for an FMLA leave of absence to be approved and a short term disability application to be denied. Many people who are approved for short-disability benefits ultimately file for long-term disability benefits. If you are disabled and your short term or long term disability benefits have been denied, please call the attorneys at Keller & Keller immediately for a free consultation. Keller & Keller may also be able to help you obtain Social Security disability benefits.

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