Attendance is a key metric for how employers evaluate the usefulness and reliability of their employees. You have probably spent a career building up an excellent reputation as someone dependable by showing up to work on time every day.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t always cooperate with your intentions to be a model employee with perfect attendance. Maybe your spouse got into a car accident and needs you to take care of them while they recover from several broken bones. Perhaps your child, who serves in the military, came home with a serious injury. You might even have a loved one who falls ill with a condition that requires your care.
Do you have the right to stay home with your family when they need medical help?
As long as you qualify, there are federal protections for family leave
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees have the right to take unpaid leave for personal health issues and to support immediate family members as well. As long as you have worked with the company for at least 12 months and have put in 1250 hours in the last year at the company you have the theoretical right to take leave under the FMLA.
Immediate family members sometimes require practical support
When someone in your family has a medical issue or suffers an accident, they may need help handling the tasks of daily life until they recover. It makes much more sense to have a family member stay home during that recovery period than to hire a professional, which could be cost-prohibitive for most families.
If your spouse, child or parent needs medical support, you have the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in addition to any accrued vacation time or paid time off that you can use with your employer. If your loved one who requires care is a military servicemember, you can potentially take up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave.
If your employer refuses to grant you legally permissible unpaid leave or if they retaliate against you by demoting you, cutting your wages, reducing your benefits or firing you, you may need to take action to defend yourself and your rights.