Unexpected events happen to all of us, and many times, these events require us to take extended time away from our jobs.
Whether it is taking care of a sick family member, a major accident or any other event that suddenly disrupts your life, you want to be able to deal with the issue without worrying about your job.
The situation can be especially difficult if you realize that you do not have enough paid leave time at work to take off. Even if you are willing to take unpaid leave, what if your employer fires you for not coming to work?
The FMLA provides protection for employees who need to take unpaid leave
You could be protected in these circumstances under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). The FMLA allows you to take up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period of unpaid leave in certain situations.
These situations include taking care of a newborn or adopted child or a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition. You may also take unpaid leave to care for yourself if you are unable to continue working due to illness or injury.
Military families have unpaid leave protections under the FMLA. You may potentially take unpaid leave if you have a spouse, child or parent who is on covered active duty and has a qualifying emergency. Military caregiver leave is available if you must take care of your family member serving in the military.
Your unpaid leave can be taken according to your schedule
You can take your unpaid leave all at once, or in chunks or blocks of time, provided you do not exceed the 12 weeks in a 12-month period. While you are on unpaid leave, your employer could reduce your salary for each hour of unpaid leave you take, if you are an exempt, salaried employee.
To receive these FMLA unpaid leave protections, your employer must be covered under the FMLA, and you must be an eligible employee. Consulting with an experienced professional can help you understand if you are covered under the FMLA and what your best options are.