Are you or your loved one experiencing a severe medical problem? Did you know that you can take an extended leave from work without the fear of losing employment? Federal and state laws indicate that you can take as much as three months of leave from work, either unpaid or paid.
Medical leave is job-protected, so you cannot lose your job for taking it if you are eligible. When you report back to work, you have to get the same position or its equivalent. Although the process may vary, they all start by talking to the HR department to determine the best options. Below are some of the things you need to consider before applying for medical leave
1. Confirm Your Eligibility
Generally, you qualify for up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave if a covered employer has employed you for not less than 1250 hours over the last year. Employers should have 50 or more on-site employees to qualify for the Family and Medical Leave Act. They may also have employees within a 75-mile radius.
The FMLA protects you if you are dealing with a severe medical problem, including inpatient care at a residential medical facility or a hospital, duration of incapacity due to expectancy, or the need to receive a series of treatments like chemotherapy. You qualify for FMLA if:
- You have worked with your employer for at least 12 months
- You are under medical care or should stay in hospital
- Have a family member hospitalized for at least three consecutive days
- Want to bond with a newborn, an adopted child, or a child placed under your care
- Your spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on covered active duty or call to covered active duty status as a member of the National Guard, Reserves, or Regular Armed Forces
2. Give an Early Notice
You must notify your employer at least 30 days before the date your FMLA medical leave takes effect. If the medical condition comes up unexpectedly, notify your employer as soon as possible. If you give notice in less than 30 days because the medical condition was unpredictable, your employer can ask for reasons why it was impracticable to provide an early notice as needed by the law.
3. Talk to Your Manager or HR Representative
When you submit your first application for medical leave, you do not necessarily have to mention FMLA. However, make sure you provide sufficient information to help your employer understand that FMLA covers your request. Your employer should then respond within five days to inform you of your eligibility for FMLA leave.
4. Provide Medical Proof if Needed
Your employer is responsible for providing you with relevant details regarding your responsibilities and rights in relation to FMLA when you apply for medical leave. They also have a right to ask for medical proof of your condition and the need for medical leave.
Once your employer asks for medical certification, you have 15 days to submit the needed information failure to which they can disqualify your application. However, you do not have to provide medical certification if you need some time off work to bond with an adopted child or a newborn. If your employer develops any concerns regarding the leave or its duration, they can also ask for medical certification even after granting your leave request.
4. File a Complaint
In some cases, employers may find unfair and unjustifiable reasons to deny your request for medical leave even when you need it. You can file a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor or file a lawsuit against the employer.
Have you or your loved one been denied a medical leave request you qualify for? Contact New Jersey employment law attorneys today for assistance.