Call Today for a Free Consultation 317-843-2606

Employee and worker rights have been a long-running topic in our country as we try to maintain a work/life balance. One of the most influential and beneficial laws passed in recent history is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Since the passage of the FMLA in 1993, millions of people have been able to take the time needed to care for themselves and their loved ones. The lawyers at Goodin Abernathy represent clients and their workers’ rights when they need to take medical leave. We are passionate about protecting our clients’ rights and ensuring their livelihood is protected when caring for themselves and family.  

Qualifying Employees 

Companies or businesses that employ 50 or more people for more than 20 work weeks in the current or previous year must abide by the FMLA. In addition, as an employee of one of the qualifying companies, you must also meet specific standards to qualify for medical leave. 

First, you must have been employed by your current employer for at least a year, which would be twelve months. During those last 12 months, you must have worked at least 1,250 hours. This equates to 31.25 40-hour work weeks, which is just under eight months of full-time work. You can qualify for medical leave as a part-time employee. However, you would still need to meet the employment requirements. 

Second, if you meet the employment requirements, you or a family member must then experience a qualifying illness or event.

Qualifying Family Members 

A qualifying family member would be in your immediate family or household. The FMLA defines family members as the employee’s spouse, parent, guardian or custodian, grandparent, brother, sister, or adopted brother or sister.

Qualifying Reasons 

To be able to take a medical leave, it must be a qualifying condition or situation. The FMLA defines this as the birth or adoption of a child, a serious health condition that renders you unable to do your job, or a family member’s serious health condition that the employee must take care of. 

Medical leave under the FMLA is considered a protected activity as a matter of public policy. Speaking with an employment lawyer can help you understand your rights and ensure you qualify. Employers that terminate an employee for doing a protected activity could be liable for wrongful termination

What Is A Serious Health Condition? 

Not all medical conditions will qualify you for medical leave. The condition must be a “serious medical condition” that prevents you from doing your job. For example, you or a family member must stay in the hospital overnight. You or your family member may require treatment from a doctor that requires three or more days off from work. The medical condition is chronic or requires ongoing treatment that incapacitates you for extended periods of time. The medical condition is long-term and permanent, with no effective treatment available. 

How to Take Medical Leave 

If your medical leave is planned, you must give your employer at least 30 days’ notice. It is best to communicate with your employer about your medical leave in writing. Print out and keep these communications for your records. For example, adoptions, giving birth, or having surgery would qualify. However, in an emergency situation, you must give notice as soon as possible. 

Your employer may ask for a written statement from a doctor. Your statement should include the basic facts of the health condition, when it began, and how long it is expected to last. There should also be a statement about how a serious medical condition prevents you from doing your job, which is why you are requesting medical leave. However, it does not need to include personal medical information that would violate your HIPPA rights. 

If you are requesting time off to care for a family member, the statement would need to explain how you are needed to care for said family member. In addition, your employer may require a new written statement every 30 days. 

When taking your medical leave, you have 12 weeks available. You can take your 12 weeks all at once or spread it out over the course of the year in smaller breaks. 

When your medical leave is completed, your employer may require that you provide a written doctor’s statement verifying that you are medically cleared to return to work or that your family member no longer requires your care. 

Stand Up For Your Employment Rights 

You may have legal recourse if you qualify for medical leave, and your employer won’t let you, harasses you, or threatens termination. Possible recovery could include getting your job back or monetary compensation. In addition, your employer may be required to pay for your court and attorney costs. The team at Goodin Abernathy works with clients to protect their employment rights. You should be able to care for yourself and your family without fear of losing your job. 

Contact our office today and speak with one of our knowledgeable employment lawyers.