A lot of our clients are small business owners. For many, they are just beginning to become mid-size businesses. But once your organization crosses that 50 person threshold, get ready because you have some new laws to deal with. Specifically FMLA.
I have FMLA on my mind right now because I am in a full scale crisis. One Direction broke up. As you know, I am a huge One Direction fan. I knew of the infamous hiatus and all the interviews where the band reassures fans that they will be coming back together. They are merely taking a break. Or so I thought. Today, I have had to face my greatest fears. One Direction is done for good.
How am I supposed to continue through the workday when I am devastated! For those of you who are heartbroken over One Direction (sighhhh, or whose children are heartbroken over One Direction), then FMLA might be the solution for you!
What Is FMLA?
Family Medical Leave Act is a federal law that requires an employer to allow a person to take leave without job loss. This law was passed with bipartisan support in 1993. The American people, loud and clear, wanted lifeproof job protection. Prior to this law employers could legally terminate you for:
- Taking maternity leave.
- Taking time off to care for sick children
- Taking time off to care for sick parents
- Taking time off to seek medical treatment for yourself
There were lots of companies that protected jobs in these situations just from the goodness of their heart. But, there were also companies that didn’t. Now that FMLA is a federal law, jobs are protected.
One Direction breaking up is not what FMLA was intended for. But it is intended to protect your job if you need some time to seek medical treatment. If you are a psychotic fan (like me), you just might need medical treatment. It is good to know I will have a job to come back to after this.
When Does A Company Have To Offer FMLA?
This is a pretty simple one. If your company has more than 50 employees, you need to comply with FMLA. Where it gets complicated is if you only employ 50 people for part of the year. Think seasonal work such as landscaping. The law accounts for this by making the cut off of 20 weeks out of the year. So if your business employs more than 50 people for 20 weeks out of the year, then you have to allow your associates to take FMLA.
What Makes Me Eligible To Take FMLA?
Ok, so you are in a full existential crisis and anxiety attack over the 1D split. But you just started a new job one month ago. Sorry, you can’t take FMLA.
To qualify for a job protected leave of absence under FMLA, you must meet the following criteria:
- You work for a company that employees 50 or more people (see above)
- You have worked for this company for 12 months
- You have completed over 1250 hours of work for this organization during that time
- You have a qualifying life event
The standard amounts of time make sense because employers wouldn’t want to have to protect the job of a person who hasn’t even worked there for more than a week. But let’s focus on the qualifying life event.
Many employers will require medical documentation to indicate the severity of the situation and how long you will be out of work. The employer is only required to provide 12 weeks of leave for a serious medical condition for you or a family member.
What Qualifies As A Serious Medical Condition?
If One Direction splitting up has given you a case of the mopes, then sorry. You still have to come to work. But if the 1D split has given you a mental breakdown and a psychiatrist says you are unfit to return to work due to your mental state, then you are entitled to FMLA.
The Ohio State Bar Association describes a serious medical condition as “An illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either in-patient or continuing treatment by a health care provider.”
So, a One Direction break down that requires psychiatric hospitalization or continued treatment would qualify for FMLA. But anything less, don’t even bring it up to your boss.
Will I Get Paid?
Nope. This is an unpaid leave. Unless you work for a company that is seriously generous, you are looking at unpaid time off. Remember, the perk of FMLA is that your job is protected. You can take the time you need off and return to work at the same job or an equivalent job. But nobody is required by law to pay you for your One Direction freak out.
How Much Is This Going To Affect My Company?
Most employers report little to no difference! If you are a small business owner and you are about to hit that 50 employee threshold, then fear not! Since you are not required to provide a paid leave of absence, most cost associated with an FMLA leave of absence is on the associate end. The only cost to the employer is potentially hiring coverage during the leave time. But, since the employee on leave is not being paid, it all balances out.
If you are a small business owner with over 50 employees, you are required by law to protect the job of your employee who had to be hospitalized for a One Direction meltdown. If you are an employee at this company, your 1D freak out has to require medical attention to have your job protected under FMLA. So, before you jump to a 12 week leave of absence to build a One Direction remembrance shrine, take a second to see if your job is protected.
Do you have any employees trying to take FMLA for a 1D crisis? Tell us about it in the comments!