Know your rights to medical leave from work. In 1993, the U.S. government passed the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This labor law requires employers to allow a qualified employee to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave a year, without fear of losing their position or certain benefits.

Who’s eligible for medical leave from work? Employees who have worked for the previous 12 months (and logged at least 1250 hours) in a public or private sector business with no less than 50 employees.

When and why? During pregnancy or after the birth of your baby; to complete an adoption or foster parent process; or to care for a yourself, child, parent, spouse, or active military member during a severe illness. (If you’re caring for an active military member, you may be eligible for up to 24 weeks of leave.)

You must give your employer 30 days’ notice when filing for parental leave or “forseeable” caregiving responsibilities. The employer can also require a doctor’s note or other certification to prove the need for your leave.

Your employer must also let you know in writing whether you qualify, and what the guidelines and expectations are. They are not allowed to discourage you or refuse your FMLA rights, or cut the portion of your health insurance premiums they pay. They cannot fire or retaliate against you for taking leave, and must reinstate you to the same position (or comparable) when you return to work.

The U.S. Department of Labor takes violations of the FMLA very seriously. So should you. If your employer violated your right to Family Medical Leave, you can take them to court. The courts can force them to grant your leave or reinstate your position, and you may be eligible for backpay, future lost wages, and more. But you’ll need an attorney to help. Contact The Cochran Firm of the Mid-South today for a free consultation, at 901-523-1222.