The Family Medical Leave Act- Know Your Rights!

The Holiday season can be one of the most stressful times of the year- preparations for Holiday plans, family matters, and not to mention the economic stresses brought on by both the Holidays as well as the recent economic downtown. Adding to this, you or your family members falling ill around this time of the year can compound the stress of the season and leaving families wondering how they will manage both taking care of themselves or their families and maintain their jobs in these uncertain times.

To the aid of working families, the Family Medical Leave Act passed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton states that employees are entitled to 12 weeks of leave time for every year worked to take care of the medical needs of themselves or their families. This act covers pregnancy and care of a newborn, caring for a sick child, spouse or parent, as well as seeking treatment for conditions that prevent you from working. This act guarantees that an employee is also entitled to the full benefits received prior to taking leave on their return to work. Furthermore, an employee must be given the same position at work. If the same position is unavailable, an employee must be given a job equal to original position in pay, responsibilities and benefits. The act also stipulates that an employer can not retaliate against an employee for exercising their right to the terms of the Family Medical Leave Act, freeing families from the worry of losing their jobs, benefits, or a demotion to take care of pressing family medical matters.

President Bush has proposed recent changes to the Family Medical Leave act that has simultaneously expanded benefits for Military and National Guard family members, while implementing stricter rules on employees in how they have to notify employers, while giving employers more access to sensitive medical records of employees. While expanding coverage to our Military service members is step forward, Bush’s proposal will negatively affect employees when the provisions go into effect on January 16th, 2009. However, employees can look forward to the end of the pro-business White House of President Bush, and look forward to an emphasis on workers rights with the inauguration of Barack Obama.

If you believe you have been negatively impacted by an employer for taking care of family or personal medical needs, or if you believe your rights under the FMLA have been violated, you should contact an employment attorney. An employment attorney can help to evaluate your situation and to explore your full legal options.