Family Medical Leave Act – What You Should Know

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law administered by the Federal Wage and Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor.  The act provides that qualifying employees have the right to take a leave from work for themselves or a family member for up to 12 weeks in a 12 month period without fear of losing employment due to the fact that they are going out on the leave.

Who is covered?

Only employers who have at least 50 employees working within 75 miles of the employee’s worksite are obligated to provide FMLA leave.  Only employees who have worked at least 12 months for the employer and have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately before the date of the FMLA leave begins are eligible to take the leave.

Sign Up for E-News

What kind of leave qualifies for FMLA leave?

The following types of situations may qualify for FMLA leave: (1) parental leave after the birth of a child; (2) pregnancy leave (where doctor requires bed rest or there is a pregnancy-related complication); (3) adoption or foster care; (4) medical leave to care for family member with a serious health condition; and (5) medical leave for your own serious health condition. 

What is a “serious health condition”?

A serious health condition is an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that either involves (1) inpatient care (i.e. overnight stay in a hospital, hospice or residential medical care facility) or (2) continuing care by a health care provider. 

An overnight stay at a hospital, hospice or residential medical care facility is an automatic trigger for FMLA eligibility. In a continuing care situation, treatment that results in an incapacity (inability to work, go to school or participate in other daily activities) of more three consecutive calendar days and two or more in-person visits to the health care provider within 30 days of the date of the incapacity will qualify the trigger for FMLA eligibility.  Examples that may qualify as chronic and/or continuing medical conditions include, but are not limited to the following: pneumonia, surgery, broken/fractured bones, asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, severe morning sickness during pregnancy, Alzheimer’s, severe stroke, terminal disease, cancer, severe arthritis, kidney disease and treatment for substance abuse by a health care provider

What kind of notice does your employer have to give you regarding the FMLA?

  1. Once you notify your employer of an FMLA qualifying medical leave, your employer must notify you that you are eligible to take an FMLA leave within five business days.
  2. Whenever you are told that you are eligible to take an FMLA leave, your employer also has to provide you with a written notice of your rights and responsibilities under the FMLA leave.  This written notice must also explain any consequences of your failure to meet these obligations under the law.
  3. Within five days of when your employer has enough information to determine whether your leave is FMLA qualifying, your employer must notify you, in writing, as to whether the leave will be designated and counted as FMLA leave. 

In other words, even if you don’t specifically tell your employer that you want to go on FMLA leave, if your employer has enough information to determine that your illness or chronic condition triggers FMLA eligibility, then your employer is required to tell you of your option to take FMLA leave.  This allows employees to have an informed choice regarding use of FMLA leave time or being charged sick days.  Unlike sick days, days out on FMLA leave cannot be used to discipline an employee in an allegation of excessive or chronic absenteeism.

What are the different kinds of FMLA leave available?

There are three different types of FMLA leave available: (1) continuous FMLA leave, (2) intermittent FMLA leave and (3) reduced schedule FMLA leave.  Continuous leave is used for situations where the employee is out for more than three consecutive business days and has been treated by a doctor. Intermittent leave is used where the employee is taking time off in separate blocks of time (i.e., hourly, daily, or weekly increments) due to a serious health condition that qualifies for FMLA. Intermittent leave is particularly useful when an employee needs ongoing treatment for their condition. Reduced schedule leave is often used where the employee needs an accommodation to reduce the amount of hours they work per day or per week, perhaps to care for a family member or to reduce stress.

Why is FMLA leave so valuable to employee?

FMLA guarantees that employees will be reinstated to the same or an equivalent position with the same pay and benefits upon their return from leave.  Employers cannot take disciplinary action against an employee for using FMLA or use FMLA leave as a negative factor in discipline decisions. Additionally, an employer cannot count FMLA leave against the company’s absentee policy for disciplinary purposes.  However, the employer may discipline an employee for legitimate reasons which are independent of taking or requesting FMLA leave.

What Remedies Are Available To Employees Wrongfully Denied FMLA Leave?

An employee may file a complaint with the United States Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division or file an action in state or federal court. The law provides in an appropriate case for economic damages, including lost wages, benefits and in many cases liquidated (double the wage loss) damages as well as reasonable attorney fees.

Knowing Your Rights and Responsibilities

If you have a question about your rights or responsibilities under the FMLA, please feel free to contact Fred Shahrooz-Scampato. Mr. Shahrooz-Scampato can provide you with the benefit of his twenty years of experience in employment law. He can be reached at Scampato@njlaborlaw.com or (908) 301-9095 or by visiting www.njlaborlaw.com.

 

Whether you are an employer looking for assistance with employment law issues, or an employee who feels unfairly treated, Fred Shahrooz Scampato can provide you with the benefit of his over twenty years experience in employment law. His goal is to prevent workplace problems from becoming costly litigation. He can be reached at Scampato@aol.com, Scampato@njlaborlaw.com or 908-301-9095. Visit his website at www.njlaborlaw.com.
 

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Like

Sign Up for E-News

Westfield

Nick's Pizza in Fanwood Shares Poems by Middle School Students on 300 Delivery Boxes

April 28, 2017

FANWOOD, NJ — Thinking outside the box, Nick's Pizza will deliver pizza and poetry when customers order pies on Friday, April 28.

As part of a literacy program, Nick's teamed up with Park Middle School in Scotch Plains and will feature more than 300 original poems written by seventh grade students taped to delivery boxes. The effort was initiated by writing teacher ...

Councilman Loughlin Seeks Input on Downtown Westfield

April 27, 2017

Dear Westfield Residents:

Mayor Skibitsky's Downtown Task Force has now presented its initial report and recommendations for improving our award winning downtown.  A copy of the report is available on the town's website at westfieldnj.gov.  I encourage all residents to contact me with any suggestions about our downtown.

As chairman of the Westfield Public Safety, ...

Upcoming Events

Fri, April 28, 1:00 PM

The Presbyterian Church of Westfield, Westfield

A Victorian Spring Flower Show

Home & Garden

Fri, April 28, 4:00 PM

WESTFIELD

Crimson Speech and Debate

Education

Carousel_image_3330a07df93ef2327354_skinos

Fri, April 28, 5:00 PM

NosVino, Westfield

Tasting: Skinos: Truly Mediterranean Spirit

Food & Drink

Obituaries

- Apr 11, 2017
Allen Chin, 80, former Mayor and Councilman of Westfield, NJ passed away peacefully on Tuesday, ...
Read more

Westfield Police Blotter: Man Arrested in Connection with Burglaries & More

April 26, 2017

April 12, 2017 9 p.m.

On April 12, 2017, members of the Westfield Police Department Detective bureau and crime response team unit arrested Jon Rincom of Roselle in connection with several burglaries. Rincom was charged with two counts of third degree burglary. Rincom was transported to Union County Jail.

April 20, 2017 7:17 p.m.

Tashawn Beckford, age 20, of Newark, NJ, was ...

The MAX Challenge of Cranford Raises $4,000 for Special Olympics, Cranford Young Athletes

April 28, 2017

The Max Challenge, Cranford hosted a series of classes, “Fit For the Cause” for the 2nd Annual MAX Challenge Day of Giving.

The MAX Challenge of Cranford along with fellow franchisee owners, managers, instructors and 20,000 plus MAX Challenge members took part in the 2nd Annual MAX Challenge Day of Giving Charity event on Saturday, April 22, 2017.  The MAX of ...

Small Business Week Resources for New Jersey’s Entrepreneurs

April 28, 2017

More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and small businesses create approximately two thirds of the country’s new private-sector jobs. At the same time, over half of new businesses face significant and unique challenges within the first five years.

National Small Business Week, which takes place from April 30-May 6, celebrates the impact of entrepreneurs and ...

New Supervisor of World Languages Appointed in Westfield

On April 25, the Westfield Board of Education unanimously appointed Enrique Pincay as Supervisor of World Languages and ELL (English Language Learners), effective August 1, 2017.  Mr. Pincay currently holds that position in the Hillsborough Township Public Schools, a school district with nine schools and 7,500 students. 

His new responsibilities will include establishing ...

Feelin' Hot, Hot, Hot

The real estate market is heating up! Homes are selling quickly in the entry-level price points and things are moving in the luxury market as well. According to NJ real estate valuation expert Jeff Otteau, "For the first time in a decade, we're seeing an increase in demand for houses in the $1M to $2.5M price range ... this is a significant change."

Multiple ...

Lost Dog Spotted in Westfield

This dog was spotted running loose on Sandy Hill Road in Tamaques Park Friday.

Westfield Area YMCA Takes Action to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the Westfield Area YMCA is designating a week to raise awareness and understanding of child sexual abuse.   From April 24-28 leading up to Healthy Kids Day on April 29, the Westfield Area YMCA is joining YMCAs across the nation to inform the community on how to recognize, prevent and report child sexual abuse. This ...

What You Need to Know if You Ride NJ Transit Trains

April 27, 2017

NJ — If you ride the train from Westfield into New York, Amtrak is instituting changes that are going to impact your NJ Transit commute. Officials have announced plans to fast-track infrastructure work that will likely cause commuters additional delays. 

In an April 27 release, Amtrak outlined initiatives to improve New York Penn Station that will require ...