When an employee is injured at work in Illinois there are a lot of fears that instantly arise: How will I earn an income? Who will pay my medical bills? What if I never return to 100%? Will I still have a job when I am done treating? While attorneys with experience in Illinois Workers' Compensation can help guide you and protect you from the fears associated with the first three, injured workers should be aware of a federal program in place to alleviate the final worry.
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) was created to provide employees a way to balance their family responsibilities and their employment commitments. FMLA is a federal law requiring employers to have an understanding for employees who have outside issues and/or responsibilities that may interfere during their work hours. Under the law, employers are required to give employees that are eligible time off from work in specific situations.
Examples of situations of leave covered by FMLA:
- Birth of a child, and to take care of a newborn child
- Care for the employee's spouse, registered same sex partner, child or parent with a serious health condition
- A serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform certain functions of the employee's job - including when the health condition was caused by a work injury
In what manner is a FMLA leave taken? Employees have leave schedules that may be taken in part time periods, full time, and continuous basis. Qualified medical conditions may also call for a reduced schedule.
How is the amount of leave determined? For part time employees, the time allowed for leave is pro-rated based upon an employee's appointment. The FMLA covers "weeks" of leave depending on the pro-rata determination. Typically, the FMLA allows 12 weeks of leave time for eligible situations.
Is FMLA leave compensated? No. If an employee takes leave under the eligibility of the Family and Medical Leave Act, they take the leave without compensation. Some employers may apply paid leave (sick leave or vacation time) through the time of leave requested by the employee. However, if the leave is necessitated by a work injury, the employee may be entitled to benefits under Illinois Workers' Compensation law for time off work.
How do I request a leave? For an FMLA leave, an employee must request the proper paperwork from their employer. In some instances, a verbal leave is appropriate, but it is only pursuant to an employer's particular policy. All requests must be specific and be covered by one of the allowed situations.
Upon return, will I return to my prior job position? The FMLA requires an employer to return the absent employee to their same job or one of its equivalents. Unfortunately, in some cases exceptions arise because a job may have been eliminated or because one would have lost the position due to a layoff or dismissal.
Does FMLA apply during a workers' compensation work related injury time off? Yes. Time off from a work related injury may be covered during FMLA absence if the injury or illness applies to the situation considered as a "serious health condition".
To learn more about the eligibility qualifications for an employee to request a leave covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, consult a workers' compensation attorney. A workers' compensation attorney may assist you in the process of how to request FMLA leave and whether an employer is adequately providing you the proper time off.
Time off of work sometimes becomes necessary to treat for your work related injury. Be sure to contact your employer to ensure the requisite paperwork is completed to secure your job. But more importantly, contact an experienced Illinois Workers' Compensation attorney today to make sure that your time off is compensated, and that the other benefits you are entitled to under Illinois Workers' Compensation law are protected.
FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT (FMLA)