When an employee must take time off from work to attend to an injury or illness, or to take care of an injured or ill family member, problems may arise. The employee may be torn between wanting to take enough time off to attend to the medical issue and wanting to protect his or her job.
There are laws in place that, where applicable, help make this difficult choice a little easier for some employees. The Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, gives eligible employees who work for some larger companies the right to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave in a year to attend to the serious medical condition of either the employee or a family member. This law also allows for twelve weeks of unpaid leave to bond with a new baby or adopted child. The law requires the company to return the employee to his or her previous position upon completion of the leave and also protects the employee's benefits from being discontinued while out on leave. The FMLA also prevents the employer from interfering with an employee's right to take leave, and from retaliating against an employee (such as by disciplining or firing her) because she has taken leave. To learn more about the FMLA, please consult the resources on this page.
Other laws that protect sick and injured workers include the Americans With Disabilities Act and state law equivalents. There are also anti-retaliation protections available to employees who are hurt on the job and have filed workers' compensation claims. In some case, employees may be able to make use of long term and short disability insurance plans in order to provide a source of income during a period of disability or incapacity.
If you are having problem taking sick or family leave, or believe that your employer is taking a negative action against you because you have taken time off, please contact our office.