Balancing work and family can be challenging, especially when a family member is sick. The U.S. is one of the few countries that does not give employees paid time off when they need to care for a family member. In Pennsylvania, you are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a year if you meet the terms set out in the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
How do I know if the FMLA applies to me?
- It depends on who you work for: The FMLA does not apply to all employers. It applies to most who employ over 50 people, although there are exceptions.
- It depends on how long you have worked for your employer: You need to have been with them for at least a year and completed at least 1,250 hours for them within the last 12 months.
- It depends on who you need to look after: You can take time off to look after your child, parent or spouse. It also applies to those you claim as dependents for tax purposes even if they aren’t a child, parent or spouse. However, FLMA time cannot be taken to provide care for other relatives, such as aunts, uncles, cousins, nephew or nieces.
- It depends on what is wrong with your family member: The regulations state it must be a serious medical condition. If your child has the flu, the FMLA will not cover this unless their condition worsens, requiring hospitalization or continued medical care.
There are many exceptions and rules that must be followed if you are seeking FMLA leave. If you feel you are entitled to FMLA but your employer has refused it, a legal professional can provide you guidance. If you meet the requirements, your employer must allow you time off. You should also seek help if your employer has retaliated against you in some way for taking leave to which you were entitled.