The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires covered employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees in certain select circumstances:
In most instances, employees are eligible for FMLA time if they have worked for a covered employer for at least 12 months and have 1,250 hours of service in the previous 12 months. A "covered employer" is one that has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.
A serious health condition is defines by federal law as an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either an overnight stay in a medical care facility or continuing treatment by a health care provider for a condition that either prevents the employee from performing the functions of the employee’s job, or prevents the qualified family member from participating in school or other daily activities. Sometimes the requirement of continuing treatment requirement may be met by a period of incapacity of more than 3 consecutive calendar days combined with at least two visits to a health care provider or one visit and a regimen of continuing treatment, or incapacity due to pregnancy, or incapacity due to a chronic condition. Other situations may meet the definition of continuing treatment, but those need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
The FMLA is not a self-executing law. Employees need to take certain steps to protect their rights and properly seek FMLA time. Employees must provide 30 days advance notice of the need to take FMLA leave when the need is foreseeable. When 30 days notice is not possible, the employee must provide notice as soon as practicable and generally must comply with an employer’s normal call-in procedures.
Additionally, employees have to provide sufficient information for the employer to determine if the leave may qualify for FMLA protection and the anticipated timing and duration of the leave. Sufficient information may include that the employee is unable to perform job functions, the family member is unable to perform daily activities, the need for hospitalization or continuing treatment by a health care provider, or circumstances supporting the need for military family leave. Employees also must inform the employer if the requested leave is for a reason for which FMLA leave was previously taken or certified. Employees also may be required to provide a certification and periodic recertification supporting the need for leave.
Your employer must tell you whether you are eligible for FMLA time. If you are, your employer's notice must specify any additional information it require of you, as well as notify you of your FMLA rights and responsibilities. If your employer decides that you are not eligible for FMLA time, your employer must give you a reason for its eligibility decision. If your employer concludes that your leave is FMLA-eligible, then it must tell you how much time will be counted against your FMLA leave entitlement.
While an employee is using FMLA leave, the employer must continue the employee’s health coverage under any group health plan on the same terms as if the employee had not stopped working because of an FMLA absence. Generally, most employees must be restored to their original or equivalent positions with equivalent pay, benefits, and other employment terms when they return from FMLA leave.
Your legal remedies if your employer violates the Family and Medical Leave Act are many and varied. A judge can order that you be promoted, returned to your former position, or reinstated to your job if that's appropriate in your case. You can also recover compensatory damages for lost wages and other economic harm, plus attorney fees and litigation expenses.
Our Des Moines law firm has considerable experience in FMLA cases. We have amassed a great deal of knowledge about all aspects of Family and Medical Leave Act law through our work on behalf of those employees. We welcome you to share in some of that knowledge by reviewing various blog posts that we have made on FMLA topics. Here are a few examples that you might find helpful:
Our firm has tried numerous employment law cases from our Des Moines offices. If you have questions about a Family and Medical Leave Act situation, please take a moment to learn about your rights by reviewing the information provided on this site. We also offer additional, more specific information about various topics at our on-site and off-site blogs that we hope you'll find helpful. If, after reviewing this information, you'd like to speak with us about your Family and Medical Leave Act situation, please reach out to us through the Web Contact Form by using the "Contact Us" button or by calling (515) 281-1460. We make every effort to provide a same-day response to all communications received during weekday business hours. Initial telephone calls are always free. If it looks like we can help, it'll be our pleasure to meet with you, learn more about your situation, and lend you a hand. We handle as many of our cases as possible on a contingent fee basis, meaning that there's no fee unless we make a monetary recovery for you.
Erbe Law Firm
2501 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50312
Erbe Law Firm has proudly served clients throughout Iowa since 2005 from our Des Moines offices. We look forward to hearing from you to see whether we can do the same for you.
Harley C. Erbe