The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. These accommodations could mean time off from work. The ADA only goes so far, however. Additionally, the law is rather complex.
To fill in some of these gaps, federal lawmakers approved the Family Medical Leave Act in 1993. Workers who have at least 12 months of service and have put in at least 1,250 hours over that time period (about 25 hours a week) are eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave time.
This leave time helps restore work-life balance and makes employees more productive. No one can concentrate fully on work if there are pressing personal issues in the person’s life. Yet many employers refuse to acknowledge this connection. They hate FMLA leave, especially intermittent FMLA leave.
A Chicago employment discrimination attorney helps you obtain the leave you need and deserve in the following situations.
When a new child comes into the family, early bonding time is important. Moreover, many daycares do not accommodate newborns. So, staying home with the baby might be more than a matter of choice. It might be a matter of necessity. Significantly, while employees take unpaid FMLA leave, their health insurance and other benefits remain in force. That is a big deal for growing families.
The aforementioned paternity/maternity leave also includes time off for prenatal care and other doctor appointments. Similarly, when families go through the adoption or placement process, there are court dates to attend, social workers to meet during the day, and so on. FMLA leave is available for these times, in addition to bonding time with the child. When employees return from FMLA leave, the law requires employers to give them their old jobs back, or at least a substantially similar job.
Care for an Ill or Injured Family Member
FMLA leave applies if the worker must care for an immediate family member with a serious condition. Both these elements require explanation. An immediate family member is a spouse or parent, whether or not the spouse or parent lives with the worker. Children under 18, or adult children with an ADA-recognized disability, are also immediate family members. Generally, a serious illness or injury is a condition that substantially impairs daily activities.
Illness or Injury Recovery
These same rules regarding a serious condition apply to an employee’s own illness or injury. Since many people have good days and bad days as they recover, intermittent FMLA leave may be available. Additionally, the leave does not have to be a block of time. It could be reduced hours. The employer generally has a right to require documentation of the illness or injury before approving FMLA leave.
Injured or Ill Service Member
This FMLA area is one of three which applies to service members in the family. The aforementioned “close relative” requirement usually does not apply in-service member situations. Any kinship through blood or marriage usually suffices.
Child care is one of the most frequent deployment-related needs. That is especially true if a service member gets sudden departure or reassignment orders. Other people may need time off to deal with selling a house or other deployment-related matters. House sitting or pet sitting leave may be available as well in some situations.
Military Caregiver Leave
This FMLA situation basically combines injured immediate family member leave and ill servicemember leave. Designated caregivers may receive up to 26 weeks (six months) of unpaid leave, if they must care for a service member with a serious illness or injury who is also an immediate family member. Especially during extended FMLA leave, employers may have the right to require periodic recertification of the illness or injury.
Connect with a Tenacious Lawyer
Unpaid FMLA leave is available in a wide range of situations. For a free consultation with an experienced employment discrimination attorney in Chicago, contact the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline. After-hours visits are available.