What sort of leave policy does your employer have if one of your immediate family members suddenly takes ill? It's the sort of question that nobody likes to contemplate, which is why many employees don't have any idea what their employer's general policies are until it happens.
Putting off learning about your options can be a big mistake. When you're in the midst of a crisis, it isn't easy to evaluate your options or think clearly about what's best for you.
It's important to understand that there are some guaranteed protections for workers who have sick or injured family members they need to care for, but only if you qualify. There are certain facts that are vital for you to know.
1. There are strict rules about when employers are mandated to offer leave.
The Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, requires employers with at least 50 employees to comply with national standards regarding leave due to family emergencies. If your employer isn't that large, he or she may still offer leave in those situations, but it isn't a guarantee.
Additionally, your employer may be required to abide by the FMLA, but you may still not be covered. At least 50 employees need to be working within 75 miles of your job location, and you need to be on the job for at least a year to qualify.
2. There are only three reasons you can rely on the FMLA.
A lot of employees get upset because they find out far too late that the FMLA doesn't apply to every family emergency. In fact, the only reasons you can take FMLA are:
- The leave is necessary for a medical crisis for you or someone in your immediate family.
- The leave is due to a military deployment or for the care of a member of the armed services.
- The leave is needed to care for a newborn, bond with the baby or to adopt or foster a child.
Those are pretty restrictive circumstances, which can leave many employees frustrated and at a loss for backup plans.
If your employer is subject to FMLA rules and your emergency qualifies, don't take "no" for an answer. Insist on your right to leave, and don't be dissuaded simply because it's an inconvenience to your manager or employer.