Michelle Cohen Levy

Honest.
Approachable.
Responsive.

There are times in life when needing to take time off of work to take care of oneself or one’s family is a must. Thankfully, the Family Medical Leave Act is in place to allow for this. This week, this column will answer some common questions Florida residents may have about FMLA.

Question number one: Who can use FMLA? FMLA is available to anyone who works for a public agency or anyone who works for a private company that has 50 or more employees who work at least 20 weeks during the year. Those eligible for FMLA must have worked at their current job for at least 12 months for a minimum of 1,250 hours.

Question number two: For what reasons can one use FMLA? There are many. One can use leave for the treatment and recovery of a severe illness or to care for a family member with a serious illness. One can take leave for the birth or adoption of a child. Finally, one may take leave if a spouse is called to active duty in the military.

Question number three: Do people get paid while using FMLA? FMLA does not guarantee pay while on leave. Those who wish to get paid usually must use their accrued paid time off.

Question number four: Can one get fired while on FMLA leave? No. Employers do not have the right to fire employees who utilize FMLA leave. One’s need to take leave can also not be a determining factor as to whether one gets a promotion or qualifies for a bonus.

Sadly, there are those in Florida who worry about taking FMLA leave, and for good reason. Some have been fired or retaliated against for taking time off, which is not okay and is a violation of their rights. Those who believe that they have been mistreated for needing to use FMLA leave can turn to legal counsel to address the matter. With the right assistance, one may be able to seek compensation for any resulting losses.