It goes without saying that dealing with a serious health condition or that of an immediate family member requires time and energy, which can necessitate requests for time off from work and/or reduced work schedules that employers need to handle appropriately. Passed in 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Eligible employees are entitled to:
- Twelve (12) workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for:
- the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
- the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
- to care for the employee's spouse, child or parent who has a serious health condition;
- a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;
- any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee's spouse, son, daughter or parent is a covered military member on "covered active duty;" or
- Twenty-six (26) workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the servicemember's spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin (military caregiver leave).
The FMLA also addresses the issue of pregnancy. While a routine pregnancy is not considered a "disability" under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the FMLA does protect pregnant employees for time needed to be off work, beginning with prenatal care through bonding time following childbirth.
Leave time under the FMLA can be taken either continuously or "intermittently" in cases of a serious health condition. The use of such intermittent leave, however, can wreak havoc on an employer's operations when absences are both sporadic and unpredictable. As a result, employers must be aware of how to strike the proper balance between running their businesses efficiently and complying with their legal obligations.
In addition to leave under the FMLA, there are a number of other types of absences and leave events which employers must plan for and address pursuant to state and federal law, including:
- Jury duty
- Military service
- Parental leave for school-related activities
- Unpaid breaks for nursing mothers
If your company is confronting such leave issues, it is important to understand the applicable legal obligations. A failure to do so can result in fines and/or lawsuits.
The attorneys of Kamer Zucker Abbott are well versed in the FMLA and other leave requirements. We can help you identify all obligations and ensure compliance, spotting potential issues before they arise.
To schedule an initial consultation with KZA, call 702-259-8640 or email the firm.