You may be feeling stressed at work or just not enjoying work very much. You may have heard of colleagues who have taken stress leave under the FMLA and taken three months off. Now, as temperatures reach record highs in Chicago, your kids may be clamoring for a summer vacation and you may be considering taking some much deserved time off work too.
But the FMLA eligibility requirements are pretty strict and not just anyone can qualify for leave. Generally, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows qualified employees to take up to 12 weeks off work for certain serious health conditions. To be a qualified employee, employees have to first jump through certain high hurdles.
First, if you work for a small business with less than 50 employees, you're probably not eligible. Providing 12 weeks of protected leave can be a burden for employers, and Congress made the law applicable only to larger employers with 50 or more workers with the assumption that these larger employers are better equipped to deal with long leaves of absence.
Second, if you're a newer employee or an employee that doesn't work that many hours a week, you may not be eligible. The FMLA is only applicable to employees who have been employed at the company for at least the last 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours in that 12-month period.
Finally, even if you've jumped over the first two hurdles, you still can only take leave for certain serious health conditions like the birth of a child or a medical condition requiring in-patient care. Feeling stressed at work is probably not enough. Instead, you've got to get a doctor's note certifying that you have a medical condition requiring leave.
FMLA eligibility requirements are tough to meet. We would all love to take 12 weeks off when Chicago is at its most hot and humid, but the reality is that FMLA is not for everyone and is generally only applicable for your serious health ailments.