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Time off to take care of family

There is nothing more important in life than family. Sometimes it takes your full attention to deal with the events. This might be caring for a spouse, caring for yourself, or anticipating a new arrival. It’s important to be there when your family needs you.

That can mean that you need time off from work to take care of things. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) you are entitled to time off to deal with these things without fear of losing your job. Sometimes, however, employers aren’t aware of these rights and may make it difficult for you. Don’t let your employer make you choose between work and family and be sure you protect your rights.

What is the FMLA?

The FMLA was passed in 1993 and updated in 2008. It allows up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain qualifying events in your family which need your attention. These include:

  • The birth of your child, both fathers and mothers
  • Adoption of a child
  • Care for an immediate family member
  • Your own care when a “serious health condition” strikes

Keep in mind that this is unpaid leave. It means that your job is secure for you while you are gone. It also only applies if you have been with the company for a year previously. It also does not apply if your employer has less than 50 employees. There are a few other restrictions and details as well.

Following the law

The FMLA requires that you give 30 days’ notice before taking leave when possible. Of course, if there is a sudden illness you may have to take leave to care for yourself or family member immediately. In those cases, you have to notify your employer as soon as possible. This can be a major sticking point. You have the right to take this leave from work even without 30 days’ notice.

Some employers are not familiar with the requirements under FMLA. It is important that they work with you to determine if you do have a qualifying life event. They still might make it difficult or require you to prove that you have an emergency.

Protect your rights

If your employer is making it difficult for you to exercise your rights to keep your job, you may need an experienced employment law attorney who understands the FMLA. It is important that you act quickly to have an advocate on your side if this is happening. You have more important matters to deal with.

Family always comes first. Your job is important, but under the FMLA it has to wait for you to be ready to come back.

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