Allen Employment Attorney Explains Reduced Leave Schedules
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave a year. Since Texas has no maternity leave laws, many new mothers and fathers use this leave all at once after the birth of a child. However, the law also allows employees to use their 12 weeks intermittently. This is often necessary for employees who have or develop a serious health condition, or who must care for an ill family member. Employees who ask for intermittent FMLA leave or a reduced schedule receive the same protections as those who take the leave all at once. This includes continuing healthcare coverage and the ability to return to the same job or an equivalent position.
Many employees in Texas qualify for FMLA leave, which means that your employer cannot deny you the right to take unpaid time off work. If you have questions about your eligibility or believe your employer violated your rights, then FMLA attorney Dan A. Atkerson can answer them in a free initial consultation. For more than three decades, our law firm has been helping Texas employees get the leave and fair treatment they deserve.
Am I Eligible for Intermittent FMLA Leave?
To qualify for intermittent leave, your job must meet FMLA guidelines for employee eligibility. You must:
- Have been an employee for at least a year.
- Have logged at least 1,250 hours of work during the year prior to taking leave.
- Work at a company with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
If you meet these requirements, then you are entitled to take up to a total of 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a year-long period. However, you must have a legitimate reason for taking this leave. These reasons include:
- Your own serious health condition. You may take leave for the treatment of a serious health condition or to prevent the development of such a condition. According to FMLA guidelines, a serious health condition is any physical or mental illness, injury or impairment that:
- Requires inpatient hospital care.
- Requires or will require more than three consecutive days of medical absence.
- Is a doctor-certified chronic serious illness or condition.
- Caring for an immediate relative with a serious health condition.
- The birth of a child.
- Caring for a newborn or newly-placed foster or adoptive child.
Usually, intermittent FMLA leave is used by employees who have serious health conditions. Intermittent leave allows you to take as little as an hour of leave a week to receive treatment, which your employer cannot refuse. However, special restrictions may apply if you wish to take intermittent maternity leave. Generally, you must get approval from your employer if you wish to continue working part-time while on maternity leave.
How Does Intermittent FMLA Leave Work?
Generally, you can take your intermittent FMLA leave in whatever increments your condition requires. For some, this may be as little as an hour or two a week. However, the total time you take for this kind of leave cannot exceed 12 weeks within a 12-month period. You must also notify your employer 30 days prior to starting your leave, or as soon as reasonably possible. Additionally, you must still work a total of 1,250 hours a year to continue to qualify for leave. Your employer also can require you to use your paid vacation and/or sick days concurrently with your FMLA leave.
If you would like to exercise your right to intermittent leave for a serious health condition, your own or for an immediate family member, then your employer may require medical certification. This means that your physician must provide written proof of your diagnosis and treatment needs. According to FMLA guidelines, you have 15 days to provide this certification after requesting leave.
Additionally, your employer can require that you get a second opinion about your condition. In this case, your employer may specify the medical facility or physician you see but must also cover the cost. However, your employer cannot require certification for every doctor’s visit or period of treatment for which you need leave. You must be allowed to return to your position or a position with equivalent pay and benefits. Your employer cannot fire, demote or otherwise discriminate against you due to your need for intermittent leave.
Questions About FMLA Guidelines? Contact a Texas Employment Attorney
If you believe your employer wrongfully denied your FMLA leave or otherwise violated your rights, contact Allen employment lawyer Dan A. Atkerson. He can explain your rights according to the Family and Medical Leave Act and help you determine whether your employer acted illegally. Standing up to your employer can be intimidating, especially if you still work for the company or business. However, you can protect your rights as well as the rights of your fellow employees and keep your job.
Our law firm represents clients throughout North Texas, including residents of Frisco, Richardson and Plano as well as the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Call our office in Allen or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation.