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Five Occasions for Using FMLA Leave

Five Occasions for Using FMLA Leave

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to give accommodations, including time off, to disabled workers. However, ADA claims are rather complex. Additionally, this law only goes so far. The ADA usually only applies to an employee’s physical, mental, emotional, or other disability.

Therefore, the 1993 Family Medical Leave Act fills an important void. It gives employees access to time off in a number of everyday situations, as outlined below.

Many employers opposed the FMLA in the early 1990s, and they continue to oppose it today. Many bosses expect their workers to show up at work on time, regardless of any personal problems they face. So, bosses frequently challenge FMLA leave, particularly intermittent FMLA leave.

Since FMLA claims are usually rather straightforward, a Chicago employment lawyer can usually resolve them rather quickly. So, workers can take care of personal issues and then focus on their jobs.


Many employers offer paid maternity and paternity leave, but not all do so. Furthermore, leave is often limited. So, the FMLA gives both men and women up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave following the birth of a child.

This leave applies in other situations, as well. Adopting families often must travel and take time off for court dates. Families who offer children for adoption also must take time away from work to care for personal issues.

Seriously Ill or Injured Family Member

The Department of Labor defines a serious health condition as “an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care or continuing treatment by a healthcare provider.” This definition includes not only serious one-time illnesses and injuries but also chronic conditions.

Additionally, this benefit also applies to workers who must care for injured or ill family members. In this context, a family member usually means a parent, spouse, minor child, or seriously disabled adult child.

Intermittent FMLA leave is often appropriate in these situations. Many people dealing with serious health conditions have good days and bad days. Such intermittent leave is generally available, but the rules are slightly different.

Injured Servicemember Care

Note that the “serious” designation is absent. So is the “family member” designation. So, this FMLA benefit is much broader. The leave usually applies if anyone related to the worker by blood or marriage requires any illness or injury care for a service-related condition.

This benefit is often stand-in-the-gap care. Frequently, people are thrust into caregiver duty because there is no one else available. Significantly, when workers take FMLA leave, their medical and other benefits must still be available.

Deployment-Related Emergencies

Generally, military families know about deployments and other changes months in advance. Other times, however, call-ups and redeployments occur suddenly with little notice. As a result, there are sudden childcare, and other needs. 

Once again, FMLA leave is generally available in these situations. The deployed family member can usually be anyone related by blood or marriage.

Military Caregiver Leave

Congress significantly expanded this FMLA category in the early 2000s. It is now a combination of serious illness and military illness leave. If the worker’s immediate family member has a serious service-related illness or injury, a worker may take up to twenty-six weeks of unpaid leave to care for the servicemember.

When workers return from any kind of FMLA leave, no matter how long they were away, they must get their old jobs back. Alternatively, they must receive a position with similar pay, benefits, and responsibilities. There are usually no ifs, ands, or buts.

Connect with an Assertive Lawyer

FMLA leave helps employees better achieve work/life balance. For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago employment lawyer, contact the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline. After-hours visits are available.


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