The Chicago Employment Law Blog

FindLaw Guide to FMLA: Going Gets Tough, You Get Leave (Maybe)

It's a common concern for those stricken with severe illness or blessed with oncoming offspring: What's going to happen with my job?

It's understandable, especially in this economy, to worry about job security. This is especially true when your doctor has informed you that you'll need to take time off for either your unexpected medical condition or the illness of a family member.

The good news is that the law, and FindLaw, have got you covered. The FindLaw Guide to The Family and Medical Leave Act has information on the law's coverage, requirements, and benefits. It's a great place to start for both employees that might need leave and employers that might have to provide it.

The law governing these situations is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). It is a federal labor law that guarantees leave for certain employees when the employee, or a family member, needs time off to care for the disease.

Unfortunately for some, the law isn't all encompassing. The law isn't going to require the corner liquor store to hold the spot of one of its three employees for nine months while that person undergoes medical treatment. As much as such a situation is difficult for the person needing leave, forcing an employer to hold that job would be almost equally burdensome.

With regard to employers, there are some ground rules. For example, the employer must have more than 50 employees, all nearby. One employee in each of the 50 states won't cut it.

Also, the employee must have been working for the employer for at least 12 months. These need not be consecutive months; just 12 months in total. This tenure requirement seems to be fair to both employers and employees. After all, it wouldn't exactly be fair to require an employer to save the spot of someone who was hired and, a week later, took leave.

Another interesting provision of the law is that FMLA leave doesn't just cover the employee's medical leave. It also covers leave to care for a loved one, such as a parent, spouse or child.

For more information, we'd recommend checking out the guide. It has more information on prerequisites for leave, the process for taking leave, and qualifying conditions.

Related Resources: