medical care, workers compUnder the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), companies are legally obligated to allow employees time to care for medical needs of their spouse and other family members. This includes employees who must care for their spouse who was involved in a work-related accident at a different company. Companies that do not provide this opportunity to employees are in violation of FMLA and could be subject to fines from the US Department of Labor (DOL) and lawsuits from the employees. Investigations by the DOL that begin based on one employee’s complaint can rapidly expand to include numerous other workers.

Employees Who Are Covered by FMLA

The FMLA covers people who have worked at the same company for at least 12 months before they request a leave. Employees must have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours. To be eligible for FMLA coverage, individuals must work at a company that employs at least 50 people within 75 miles of its location. This may vary by state and a workers comp lawyer can advise on the state-specific requirements of Illinois. The FMLA applies to people who work for any elementary or secondary school, public and private. Employees of all public agencies are covered by the FMLA.

Covered Reasons for Taking a Leave From Work

Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year to care for an immediate family member who has a serious health condition. Immediate family members are their spouse, parent, or child. The FMLA covers time away from work for the birth and care of a newborn child. Employees who adopt or provide foster care also qualify. Under the National Defense Authorization Act, military spouses may be entitled to take up to 26 weeks.

Required Documents and Proof of Injury

Employees should be able to provide a “Certificate of Health Care Provider” document and other necessary evidence their spouse or other family member has a qualifying disability.

An FMLA leave can be taken as a single 12-week or 26-week leave. It could also be on an hourly or intermittent basis. Employers should be willing to work with individuals who need a part-time schedule in order to care for the medical needs of their family member. Employers can require workers to use any available paid time off first before taking a leave. This time can still count toward the 12-week or 26-week allotment.

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