If you or a family member has suffered a serious illness or injury, you may need time off work to recover or help your loved one recover.
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period to care for themselves or a family member after an illness or injury.
The FMLA protects Florida workers who take FMLA leave by preventing employers from terminating your employment or taking other adverse actions against you.
Am I eligible for FMLA leave?
An employer is covered by the FMLA if it employs 50 or more employees during 20 or more work weeks in the current or previous year. Public agencies and public and private schools (elementary and secondary) are also covered by the FMLA.
Generally, an employee will be eligible for FMLA leave if they:
- Work for a covered employer for at least 12 months (may be non-consecutive)
- Worked for a minimum of 1,250 hours for the employer prior to the leave
- Work at a location, or within 75 miles of a location, where the employer has 50 or more employees.
What circumstances warrant an FMLA leave?
Eligible employees may only take FMLA leave if their circumstances involve:
- Birth, fostering, or adoption of a child
- A serious health condition
- Caring for a close family member (e.g. spouse, child, parent) with a serious health condition
- A military emergency (qualifying exigencies) arising from close family member’s covered active duty
How soon do I have to notify my employer?
The FMLA requires that employees give their employers 30-day notice before taking FMLA leave, if possible. However, 30 days may not always be realistic, in which case, the employee must notify their employer as soon as it is possible and practical to do so.
As much as we try to prepare for the unexpected, things happen when we least expect it. Eligible employees have a legal right to take FMLA leave if they meet the criteria listed above. If an employer fires you, demotes you, or otherwise retaliates against you for taking FMLA leave, you may have legal grounds to file a lawsuit against them for violating the FMLA.
An employment attorney in your area can determine whether you have a legitimate case against your employer and help you proceed.