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Employee protections under the FMLA

Employers want their employees available to work when they need them. They expect people to show up on time and work hard. However, people often have unexpected life situations that require time away from work. Often, these situations are precipitated by medical emergencies for the employee or a close family member of the employee.

The Family Medical Leave Act protects employees who find themselves in this situation. This federal employment law gives qualified employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from their jobs. These employees have the right to return to their old positions without fear of retaliation after their leave is completed.

According to the Department of Labor, the FMLA protects employees in a variety of situations. First, employees qualify for FMLA leave when they are dealing with a serious medical issue. If the employee must undergo treatment for a serious illness, for example, the employee may qualify for FMLA leave. However, these medical issues must be so severe that they keep the employee from being able to perform the essential duties of his or her job.

Second, employees are eligible for FMLA leave after the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child. This applies to both the mother and the father of the child. This leave can take place anytime within the first year of a child being born to, adopted by or placed with the family.

Third, people may qualify for FMLA leave in order to care for a close family member who has a serious medical condition. Under the FMLA, a close family member includes a parent, spouse or child.

Employers need to understand the rules surrounding FMLA leave. Violations of this employment law could lead to employment litigation. An attorney can help employers get a better understanding of their responsibilities related to the medical leave of employees.