Florida residents often consider unpaid maternity leave as an employment benefit, but in fact this is an employment right. The Family and Medical Leave Act went into effect in 1993 to allow people to take time off of work in certain situations–including for the birth or adoption of a child. The FMLA, however, does not only cover maternity or paternity leave, but also a number of other situations.
FMLA leaves can also generally be taken to care for an ill or injured spouse, parent or child. While employers do not have to pay workers for FMLA leaves, they do have to provide them with job protection–meaning you cannot be fired or demoted for taking a leave.
Not all employees qualify for FMLA leaves under the law. In order to qualify for an FMLA leave, one must:
- Have worked for the current employer for at least one year
- Have put in at least 1,250 hours in the year preceding the leave
- Work at a jobsite where the employer has at least 50 workers within 75 miles
For those who qualify, they can take 12 weeks of FMLA leave in one year:
- For the birth of a child
- For the adoption of a child
- To take a child into foster care
- To care for a spouse, child or parent who is ill
- Due to a serious illness that makes you unable to work
Those who qualify for FMLA leave can take 26 weeks of leave in one year:
- If they are a military member with a health issue
- To care for a parent, next of kin, child or spouse who is a military member
While the FMLA is very clear, employers sometimes make mistakes and deny legitimate FMLA requests, or even deny FMLA requests in bad faith. In some cases, employers may retaliate against those who request an FMLA leave by firing them or treating them poorly in the workplace. Those in South Florida who have had such problems when seeking an FMLA leave may benefit from seeking legal representation.
Source: US News and World Report, “Understanding Your Rights Under FMLA,” Lindsay Olson, March 12, 2013
- To learn more about your employment rights, please visit our South Florida law firm’s Employment Law page.