When one of your employees is expecting a child, it’s important that you understand the laws that protect their ability to take time off. Across the country, employers are required to abide by the Federal Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This law allows eligible employees to take unpaid leave after the birth of their child and for certain other reasons. As an employer, you must reinstate them when they return. Understanding the ins and outs of the FMLA will help you, your management staff, and your employee navigate the details of their leave without any issues.
Under the FMLA, eligible employees are allowed to take up to twelve weeks so of leave after the birth of a new child, for serious health reasons, or if they have a family member preparing for military service. Additional time may be granted to employees who are caring for a family member that was seriously injured during active military duty. During their leave, you are not required to pay your employees, however, you must hold their job for them if they return within the designated amount of time.
Not all employees are covered by the Federal Family & Medical Leave Act. If your company has less than fifty employees for less than 20 weeks out of the year, you may not need to comply with the FMLA. However, if you have more than 50 employees 20 weeks out of the year, some or all of your employees will be eligible. In order to be eligible, someone has to have been employed by your company for at least one year and they have to have worked at least 1,250 in the past 12 months (about 24 hours per week).
If our employee is eligible under the FMLA, he or she is able to take up two 12 weeks off for qualifying reasons in a 12-month period. Employees acting as a caregiver for a family member who was seriously injured during active military duty are able to take up to 26 weeks of leave in a 12-week period.
Although you are not required to pay your employee during their leave, they are still entitled to maintain their health insurance plan while they are away. They must only be required to pay the amount they normally would if they were working. If your employee has acquired any vacation days or other paid time off, they should take it during their FMLA leave.
Once your employee returns form their leave, they are entitled to return either to their original position, or one that is considered equal to it.
Understanding what is expected of your and your employees during family leave will help make their return to work run much smoother. Don’t wait until your employee is about to come out leave before making a plan for their return. Family leave complaints most often occur when an employee returns to their job and feels as though they’ve been replaced or otherwise punished for taking time off. If you have questions about what you need to do to comply with family leave laws, contact our office and one of our skilled employment attorneys can guide you in the right direction.