Striking the right balance between home and work is difficult for many people.
For independent contractors, consultants and others who work for themselves, it can sometimes seem hard to tell where marketing oneself leaves off and personal life begins.
But at least, when you work for yourself, you don’t need to ask an employer’s permission to take time off for the birth of a child or to care for a family member who is ill.
How different is it, in these situations, when you are an employee and you would like to take some leave but also keep your job?
In this two-part post, we will discuss employees’ rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
It’s been two decades now since the FMLA was passed, early in Bill Clinton’s presidency. It still provides important job protections for people who work for employers covered by the Act.
To be sure, the leave that the law allows for is unpaid. America isn’t Western Europe, where subsidies for couples upon the birth of a child are common.
Still, the job protections mandated by the FMLA are important. It means a lot to know you can get your job back after taking time away to welcome a newborn or care for a close family member.
One of the first questions you should ask, however, is whether your employer is covered by the FMLA. As the U.S. Department of Labor explains in a fact sheet on the FMLA, the law does not apply to private-sector employers with fewer than 50 employees.
More specifically, the FMLA doesn’t apply to employers that had fewer than that number of employees for 20 or more weeks during either the current year or the preceding one.
The FMLA does apply, however, to public agencies of all sizes. It also applies to both public and private schools, regardless of size.
In part two of this post, we will discuss which employees are eligible for the FMLA and how much leave they are entitled to.
If you are concerned about a possible or actual dispute with your employer over family or medical leave, please visit our FMLA page.