For various medical-related reasons, it may be necessary for a person to temporarily stop working. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides individuals with a means for doing this without running the risk of losing their job. It is important for both employers and employees to understand this special area of employment law.
What Does the FMLA Provide?
The FMLA allows workers to take an unpaid leave of absence from work for specified medical and family purposes with the continuation of insurance coverage according to the same provisions as if the employee did not take the leave of absence. Under the FMLA, an employer must return the employee to the same job or one that is nearly identical or equivalent. A nearly identical job includes the following:
- - Identical pay and benefits;
- - The same shift or general work schedule;
- - A geographically proximate worksite; and
- - The same or substantially similar duties, responsibilities, and status.
An eligible employee is eligible for 12 workweeks of leave in a one-year period for:
- - Childbirth and to provide for the child within twelve months of the birth;
- - The care of a child adopted or placed under foster care within one year of the placement of the child with the employee;
- - The care for a direct family member who has a serious health condition;
- - A health condition that prohibits the worker from being able to perform essential job functions; or
- - Any demand due to the fact that the employee’s direct family member is a covered military member on covered active duty, which is defined as duty during the deployment to a foreign country.
Alternatively, an eligible employee may be entitled to 26 workweeks of leave during a one-year period to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness if the employee is the service member’s direct relative.
The FMLA applies to the following:
- - Public agencies; and
- - Private employers with 50 or more employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or previous calendar year.
In order for an individual to be eligible, the employee must:
- 1. Work for a covered employer;
- 2. Have worked 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start date of the leave;
- 3. Work at a location where the employer has 50 or more employees within 75 miles; and
- 4. Have worked for the employer for 12 months.
The 12 months of work does not need to be consecutive. Further, under most circumstances, only employment within the last seven years is counted.
For more information about the requirements of the FMLA, whether you are an employer or employee, you should speak with an experienced Illinois employment law attorney. Our firm represents clients throughout the northwest suburbs, including Deer Park, Buffalo Grove, and Crystal Lake.
About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.