The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a U.S. federal law applying to employers with more than 50 employees. If you are among such employers, you may be required to provide unpaid, job-protected leave to employees who have worked for at least 12 months, and have worked at least 1250 hours during the past 12 months. The FMLA applies to an employee’s absences to care for a spouse, child or parent with a “serious health condition.” Once an employee notifies you of a condition meeting the parameters of the Act, even if the employee does not specifically mention the FMLA, you may be obligated to provide the employee with a notice of FMLA eligibility. Depending upon the circumstances and appropriate medical certifications, you may required to offer FMLA leave on an intermittent basis, which could then be used to cover future absences for symptom flare-ups or doctor visits.
While there is currently no federal law requiring employers to provide paid sick leave, some states and municipalities require employers to provide employees with paid sick leave in varying amounts per year. Some states also provide leave for parents to participate in their children’s school or educational activities. Assure yourself that you or your human resources is current on the laws where you have employees.
Even if your workplace is not subject to all of these laws, you should exercise care when managing employees with parental responsibilities, as these employees may be protected in other ways. For instance, in its Enforcement Guidance regarding employees with caregiving responsibilities, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission points out that although caregiving itself is not protected under federal law, stereotyping or other forms of discrimination against caregivers can constitute unlawful gender or disability discrimination.
Because there is no one simple law governing how employers should treat employees balancing work and family responsibilities you should consult with the employment lawyers at your Ally Law member firm. Experienced employment counsel will review your business, advise you which laws apply to you, and assure that your employee policies and handbooks are in compliance. For more information about our services in this area, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.