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Q&A: FMLA info?

What's FMLA, and how can I get the most out of it?

Re: What's FMLA, and how can I get the most out of it?

The Bump Expert

The FMLA (aka the Family and Maternity Leave Act -- learn more at the U.S. Department of Labor) is the federal law that makes your maternity leave possible. (It also applies to other situations where you might need to leave work for a while to take care of yourself or a family member with a serious health problem.)

This law, which applies to you if your company has at least 50 employees in a 75-mile radius and you've been there at least a year, entitles you to 12 weeks off in a 12-month period. While this leave is unpaid, it secures your position for when you return, and ensures that you continue to be covered under your employer's health insurance plan and other benefits.

A few things you might not know about the FMLA:

You can spread it out
Your 12 weeks technically don't have to be taken all at once. If you have pregnancy complications, you might want to take some before baby arrives. The rest can be taken anytime over the 12-month period that you work out with your employer. Since there are a few different ways to define "12-month period," talk with your company about its specific policies.

You might have to use their vacation days
Some (but not all!) companies ask employees to use paid leave (such as vacation and sick days) that's already been accrued as part of those 12 weeks of maternity leave. Though you might not be happy about "losing" those days, but look on the bright side -- you'll get paid! In fact, the law allows you to elect to use the paid days towards your FMLA leave, even if your employers doesn't require it.

You might have to pay for health insurance
Your employer is required to maintain your health insurance benefits, but you might have to cover your premiums for the time that you're away.

Different states have different laws
The FMLA applies to all states, but most enforce their own family and medical leave laws in addition to the federal ones. Check the National Conference of State Legislatures for your state's specific requirements. Tennessee, for example, offers 16 weeks of leave for childbirth, while some states (California and New Jersey, for example) offer partial wage replacement. Your employer might have varying policies too, so definitely look into your options.

Erin Walters

re: Q: FMLA info?

It's actually the Family and Medical Leave Act, not "Maternity". Most federal agencies have their own policies on leave, so definitely check with your own employer, not just the Dept. of Labor (though "Labor" is very appropriate for the subject here!).

candreco |

re: Q: FMLA info?

The link above didn't work!

SejalL |

Q&A: FMLA info?

FMLA is pretty complicated, and I would not rely on the following information alone as you make your decisions on what to do when baby arrives. First off, your employer does not have to grant you 12 weeks, its up to 12 weeks- and most employers only grant 6-8 weeks depending on the type of delivery you have. I would recommend starting conversations very early with your employer. My boss has interpreted the law in many ways, and after consulting my union reps, he was incorrect. Don't sign any paperwork or allow your employer to pressure you into something you are not ready to commit to until thorough research and thought has been put into what you will do. If you are part of a union- contact them!

jeremykim |

Q&A: FMLA info?

it is 6-8 weeks for birth of a child and an additional 6 weeks of baby bonding. Both are covered FMLA.

kornni |

Q&A: FMLA info?

As a Benefits Manager for the past 11 years, I can provide an overview. First, it is up to 12 weeks or your own serious health condition, for you to care for a family member's serious health condition, AND/OR to bond with your new baby. The government is pretty clear about what you have to do to qualify, and it is up to your physician, not your employer, to decide how much time you need for your own medical condition. The only way your employer can even suggest that you take less FMLA than your Doc recommends is if THEY PAY for a second medical opinion. Most employers won't mess with FMLA. If you don't feel like your HR department is giving you fair treatment, contact your employer's employee assistance plan (EAP), if you have one. You can also contact the Department of Labor, they have a 1-800 number, and are very friendly and helpful. Just explain to them that you need help understanding your rights (and responsibilities, you do have to do some paperwork and give your employer at least 30 days notice). You might also be entitled to state leave, either concurrent with or in addition to your FMLA. Massachusetts and California have especially generous Maternity leave laws. PLUS, your hubby is also entitled to FMLA leave to take care of you AND baby if you need his help, and some states have protections for dads too. Some progressive employers even offer dad paid time off, in addition to any vacation that he has available.

thefuturemrsdavis |

Q&A: FMLA info?

I counsel clients on FMLA all the time as an attorney. It's up to 12 weeks for birth of a child or to care for a newborn which applies for pregnant moms. When you feel comfortable, inform your employer of your need to take maternity leave and ask if FMLA applies to your jobsite. The employer should give you a notice of rights & responsibilities Form WH-381 which will state explain your eligibility and other steps you will need to take in order to receive FMLA protection. You may also receive some forms to provide your medical provider to complete and I recommend you complete them by the stated timeframe provided by your employer. More info is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/. Further, remember that you should return to work by the time your approved FMLA or maternity leave expires. Failure to report to work or request additional time off may result in termination based on your employer's absentee policies. Check your employee manual for more information. Each state is also different so check local state laws as well. Most employers are required to have federal and state law posters located in common areas like the lunchroom so that would be a good place to start as well.

evyari6@hotmail.com |

Q&A: FMLA info?

I understand that you need to be at your company for 12 months prior to being eligible for job security covered under FMLA. Can anyone clarify what happens if you havent been at your company for 12 months? Do you not have job security?

onesmartchick |

Q&A: FMLA info?

I don't have an answer, but a question. 7 months ago I started a new job with a 1yrs probation period. I will be 1 month shy of making my probation. Can the FLMA still apply to me?

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Q&A: FMLA info?

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