Monday, September 5, 2011

FMLA - Know Your Rights

I have FMLA papers filled out every year by my rheumatologist for my employer. So far, in the 5 years I have been covered by FMLA, I have not used it a single day but it is there should I need to use it. If you do not have it, I would suggest checking on it, especially if your employer has a stringent attendance policy. Once your FMLA papers are filled out and approved, you do not need to give any advanced notice. To use it you call into work, but instead of calling in sick, just let them know that you are calling in FMLA. In our case, living with a chronic disease, this is an excellent tool to protect your job. 
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for specified family and medical reasons. The U.S. Department of Labor's Employment Standards Administration, Wage and Hour Division, administers and enforces the FMLA for all private, state and local government employees, and some federal employees. You can take as little as half a day or all 12 weeks at once, depending on your needs. 
FMLA applies to all public agencies, including state, local and federal employers, local education agencies (schools), and private-sector employers who employed 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year, including joint employers and successors of covered employers.

To be eligible for FMLA benefits, an employee must:
• work for a covered employer;
• have worked for the employer for a total of 12 months;
• have worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months; and
• work at a location in the United States or in any territory or possession of the United States where at least 50 employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles.

Under the LEAVE ENTITLEMENT section there is this paragraph that pertains to us taking a day or two off during a bad flare up :
Under some circumstances, employees may take FMLA leave intermittently – taking leave in separate blocks of time for a single qualifying reason – or on a reduced leave schedule – reducing the employee’s usual weekly or daily work schedule. When leave is needed for planned medical treatment, the employee must make a reasonable effort to schedule treatment so as not to unduly disrupt the employer’s operation. If FMLA leave is for birth and care, or placement for adoption or foster care, use of intermittent leave is subject to the employer's approval.
The down side of this is that you do not get paid for the time missed while out on FMLA and there is abuse of this program by employees who just don't feel like going to work on any given day.

If interested, you can read up on FMLA at: 


deb aka murphthesurf said...

What great information about FMLA. Before I went out on disability I was unable to use FMLA because my employer had less than 50 people. I think it is a great program and one that every person with a chronic illness should understand and use if necessary. Thanks for the great post!

Wren said...

I had no idea that the FMLA covered medical issues like RA, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that. Thank you for passing this really important information on, Terry.

tharr said...

Deb, I attended a class on FMLA set up by our local where I work. It was very informative and as much as I criticize our government, this is one thing I think they did right for people living with or caring for loved ones with chronic illness.

Wren, I was aware of FMLA before I had RA but not very up on it. Since I was diagnosed with RA and the company I work for offers it, I have been filling out the paperwork every year just in case I need it. Like I said, I have been very fortunate that I have been able to work and not used it yet, but we know not what tomorrow brings for us.

Lana said...

Some great information, Terry. I honestly did not know that those of us with chronic illness had rights but clearly most of us are not informed of those rights.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic advise for those working outside the home. Excellent post.

mary said...

I didn't realize you could ask for approval for FMLA before you had an issue. Good to know. My state has paid FMLA which is nice. Of course the State is just about bankrupt but....

tharr said...

I was disappointed that my rheumatologist did not offer this information. I actually learned about it through my workplace, then attended a training seminar on it this year through my local. Good info, I would suggest learning all that you can about it if you are still in the workforce living with any chronic disease.

tharr said...

Tammy, I was surprised at how many had not heard of this. Then again, before I had RA, I had only heard of it, was not familiar with it at all. Thanks for following my blog now.

Mary, I have mine filled out for a year at a time. Then when I need it, my employer already has all of the paper work on file for the current year. Each state may be slightly different on how they handle it though. Paid FMLA would rock!

Anonymous said...

That was news to me too. Since then I googled it and also found out that my work place will help through the personell dept. Unfortunatly my need to take time off is increasing no matter how hard I try to force myself to get to work. Very informative. If we get any more storms here in upstate NY I may have to consider FMLA as an option.

Phil - Syracuse NY

tharr said...

Hey Phil, just trying to get the word out to as many as I can. FMLA is a good tool to protect your job, especially if you're in our shoes. Man, over the last few weeks, NY has had an earthquake, hurricane and tornadoes. What a crazy year it's been.