In 1993, Congress passed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This law guarantees that a person will not lose his or her job if he or she takes a leave of absence for various medical situations, which can range from having a baby to other health issues affecting family members. Under the law, an employee is entitled to take 12 weeks off from work.

Although the law has been in effect for a number of years, many employees are not aware of how it works or what it covers. Here are a few details about the legislation.
The FMLA covers the following situations, where employers are required to give an employee unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks:
• If you are are having a baby, adopting a child, or taking a child in for foster care.
• If you are caring for a spouse, child or parent who has a serious medical problem
• If an employee has a serious health issues and needs to take time off for medical treatment

The FMLA covers only companies that have 50 or more employees. It does not apply to part-time employees. And the law is intended to cover only medical conditions that are considered to be serious, so it cannot be used if you need to stay at home to care for a child who has a cold or the flu.

Under the law, an employer is required to make sure that someone who took a leave of absence retains the same job he or she had before he or she left or one that is almost the same as his or her previous job. But the law does not give you blanket immunity from being laid off. If, for example, during your absence, the company goes through a reorganization and jobs are eliminated as a result, including your own, the law does not insulate you from losing your job because you would have lost it even had you not taken leave.

These are some of the guidelines regarding the law. If you intend to use the law, it is important to communicate with your employer so that there are no misunderstandings. Merely telling your employer that you are taking time off for an illness isn’t providing enough information. You don’t need to go into details about your illness, but you need to make clear the magnitude of the problem.

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