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How does the Family Medical Leave Act protect your job?

Employees in Tennessee may find that there are times that, for health reasons, they are unable to go to work. Fortunately, in many cases, federal law protects workers who must take an extended leave from work due to a medical condition, the birth or adoption of a child or to care for an ill family member. This federal law is known as the Family Medical Leave Act.

The FMLA only applies to employers who have at least 50 employees, to public agencies and to schools. In addition, to qualify for FMLA benefits, a worker must have been employed by a covered employer for at least 12 months, though it need not be 12 months in a row. In addition, the worker must have put in a minimum of 1,250 hours of work with a qualified employer during the previous year to qualify for FMLA benefits. However, if a worker meets these requirements, the FMLA, in general, protects them from losing their job.

Once a worker is done utilizing FMLA leave, the worker must be given either the same position the person had before taking FMLA leave, or the worker must be given a genuinely equivalent position. Sometimes, a person's work requires the passing of continuing education courses, the renewal of professional licenses or other qualifications. Employees who have been away from work under the FMLA must be given a reasonable opportunity to meet these qualifications so that they can return to their jobs. Keep in mind, however, that "highly compensated employees" may be exempt from the reinstatement requirement. This may be the case if the employer would suffer a serious financial hardship and provided that the employer informed the worker that the worker will not be given the same position after returning from FMLA leave and the worker does not in fact continue working for that employer after taking FMLA leave.

FMLA provides workers with the protection they need to retain their job after taking an extended leave from work. This is very important, as oftentimes a worker has no choice but to take an extended leave from work for a serious health condition.

Source: FindLaw, "Rights and Responsibilities Under the FMLA," accessed March 20, 2018

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