The Family and Medical Leave Act provides protection for employees when the unexpected and even in many cases the expected arise and need a little extra time off. It might be an unexpected family emergency or the anxiously expected birth of a child. FMLA may be necessary after an unforeseeable car accident or an ongoing injury.
Whatever the reason for the FMLA leave time, the law not only allows the individual to take the unpaid time off from work, but it provides certain protections as well. The law provides extended health care coverage during the break and ensures that the individual has a job to come back to.
In this day-and-age performance reviews really matter, so in addition, employers cannot interfere with the leave time such as forcing an individual to continue to work at home because they fear negative performance reviews for failing to meet sales or production goals or other performance metrics.
Employers who have employees on leave should adjust their expectations while that person is away from the office. They should do things like extending project deadlines, adjusting performance metrics, shifting time-sensitive responsibilities amongst other co-workers and other things to make sure that when the employee returns, his or her job is not threatened upon return.
FMLA time is for employees to use in a time of need. Most importantly, the law protects individuals from retaliation. An employer cannot punish a worker for applying for or taking time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Source: Business Management, "Avoid FMLA suit: Cut slack for leave-takers," Dec. 5, 2012
If you have suffered retaliation for taking leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act or the California Family Rights Act, our Los Angeles website provides more information on the law and your options.