When challenging events occur in your life, it is often necessary to take a temporary leave from work in order to attend to yourself or your family. Unfortunately, prior to the passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) many employees would do so fearfully, wondering if there job would still be there for them when they returned. In other cases, employers would use leave time as an excuse to cut benefits or seniority. Thankfully, legislation has been put into place to give people peace of mind when dealing with difficult personal issues and to prevent employers from taking advantage of these situations for their own gain.
The FMLA applies to people who need to take temporary leave from work in order to undergo medical treatment and recovery, to give birth or care for a newborn child, to adopt a child or to care for an injured child, spouse or parent. The law allows for 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period and up to 26 weeks leave for employees who need to care for a seriously ill or injured relative who is a member of the armed services. During this leave period, employers must respect several restrictions:
An employee cannot be terminated while on FMLA leave.
An employee must receive continued group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions while on leave.
An employer cannot demote an employee upon his or her return or otherwise unfavorably alter the terms or conditions of employment because the employee took leave.
Returning from a personal trial only to find out you’ve lost your job is something no one should have to face.