Six Common Myths About Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)  

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woman with laptop in the hospital

woman with laptop in the hospital

Think you know your rights to leave? Think again. Many Americans take advantage of protections under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) each year, but many more have serious misconceptions about what the law is and how it works. When you are facing a serious medical condition and require time off of work to tend to your personal and family needs, contact an experienced employment attorney from Five Points Law Group. We can help you make sense of your situation and protect your rights if your employer is trying to violate them.

Here are just six of the most common myths about FMLA:

All Employees Have a Right to Leave

False. Not all employees or employers qualify. As a basic proposition, only certain people will qualify for FMLA leave. To be bound by FMLA, employees must have:

  • Worked for the employer for at least 12 months (comprising at least 1,250 total hours over the past 12 months)
  • Worked at a location where the company has at least 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius.

As you can tell, many employers are not covered by the law.

I Can Use My Sick Leave After I Finish Leave

False. Actually, an employer may make use all of your paid leave, such as vacation and sick time, before you can invoke your right to FMLA OR require you to use such paid leave concurrently with your FMLA leave. The employer can require you to use up all the paid leave.

I am Entitled to 12 Weeks Leave Per Year

False. This is not how it works either. It is 12 weeks in a 12-month period. So, if you took leave from September 1, 2017 through December 1, 2017, you would likely be ineligible to take leave again until after December 1, 2018. It is not based on calendar year; it is based on a 12-month period.

FMLA is Paid if I Have Accrued Enough Paid Time Off

False. The two have nothing to do with each other. Your accrued paid time off, whether sick leave, personal leave, or vacation time, is something you have earned through your employer.  FMLA is unpaid leave that acts as a safety net to protect your job. Your employer will likely require you to use up all your paid time first. If you no longer require time off, then there is no reason to take FMLA.

I Do Not Have to Give My Employer Anything Except a Doctor’s Note

False. In most cases, you must have a legitimate reason, and your employer has a right to verify it. Here are the basic reasons you may qualify for FMLA:

  • Birth or adoption of a child
  • Time to care for a newborn or adopted child within one year of birth or adoption
  • To care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition
  • Employee has a serious health condition making it impossible to perform essential functions of the job
  • Any other qualifying situation arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is in the military (e.g. deployment, combat, injury, etc.)

Service Members and Their Families Have Extended Rights

True! Actually, this one is correct. Employees who otherwise qualify can get up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period to care for a covered family member (parent, son, daughter, next of kin, spouse) who is seriously injured or sick and is a military service member. This is known as military caregiver leave.

Talk to a Birmingham Employment Rights Attorney

When you are facing the loss of income or employment, you may have a lot of questions and be worried about how you will pay the bills. Do not continue to worry alone in silence. Call an experienced team of compassionate attorneys who can give you straight answers. You may even be entitled to financial relief in the form of compensation if you have been wrongfully terminated. Call Five Points Law Group today to learn more.

Kira Fonteneau
Kira Fonteneau
Kira is a lawyer for working people who represents people facing discrimination and illegal wage practices in the workplace.

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