Dealing with personal health problems can be very stressful, especially when your performance at your job is at stake. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that grants certain employees up to 12 work-weeks’ worth of unpaid leaves every year without the employees having to worry about losing their jobs.
Everything about the FMLA is a little complicated, as even the most qualified HR managers fear making decisions at the workplace that could put them at the risk of violating the FMLA.
Can Employees Be Laid Off During FMLA Leaves?
Contrary to popular belief, it is not illegal for employers to lay off employees during their FMLA leaves. However, this is only permitted under certain conditions.
In essence, a company is allowed to lay off an employee as long as they would have made the same decision had the employee not used their FMLA.
The following are some factors that allow an employer to lay off an employee during their FMLA leave:
- An employer is allowed to lay off an employee due to reasons that are not influenced by the fact that the employee took leaves under the FMLA. “If an employee is laid off during the period of FMLA leave, the employer must be able to show that the employee would not have been employed at the time of reinstatement,” notes the Dept. of Labor.
- An employer can lay off an employee that is salaried and falls under 10% of the highest paid individuals within a 75 miles radius; given that the employer has evidence suggesting that their operations are suffering due to prevalent economic conditions.
There still remains plenty of confusion surrounding the circumstances that make an employee eligible to take FMLA leaves. Whether you are a manager in search of answers pertaining to the FMLA, or an employee desperately in need of understanding how the FMLA applies to you, we suggest that you look into an OSHA Training Course
pertaining to workforce compliance.
Few More Things You Need To Know About the FMLA
- The Length of Leaves Under FMLA
Under the FMLA, employees are allowed to have 12 weeks of leave during a 12-month tenure. All of the leaves are unpaid and can cover emergencies such as the need for the employee to care for an ill family member.
- Only Certain Circumstances Make An Employee Eligible for FMLA
While some employees would prefer being able to take leaves under the FMLA for any family-health related crisis, the act particularly deals in the following situations
- Serious health condition of self or a family member
- Reasons covering the care for a covered service member or pertaining to certain military deployments
- The birth of a child and the period required to properly bond and care for the child
- Placement of a child with the employee for purposes of adoption or foster care
- Not All Employers Are Required To Comply With FMLA
Not all employers are required to be covered under the FMLA. Employers that have held 50 or more employees for a period of more than 20 weeks in the current or the previous year are required to comply with the FMLA.
- Not All Employees Are Eligible For FMLA
For employees that have only worked with the company for less than a year and fewer than 1,250 hours in particular, employers are not required to grant those leaves under the FMLA.
- An Employer Has The Right To Demand Proof
While the FMLA doesn’t require employees to present a proof of their reason for the leave, employers are granted the right to ask for medical certification from a qualified health care provider. It is important for employers to note, a request for certified proof should not be made any later than five days from the time that an employee submits a request for the leave.
- Employers Can Change Your Job Role Upon Return
The FMLA binds employers to reinstate the job of every employee that seeks days off under the FMLA. However, the FMLA doesn’t restrict employers from changing the job roles and duties of employees. The DOL notes
, “Upon return from FMLA leave, an employee must be restored to his or her original job or to an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.”
The FMLA, along with other regulations that govern workforce compliance
and safety procedures, are often very difficult to determine. OSHA outreach programs such as online safety courses can help you access the information you need to make the right decisions as an employer or an employee.