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The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) permits most workers to take up to 12 weeks per year of unpaid leave to deal with certain medical and family situations. You are covered if you work in the public sector, as a teacher in a private or public school, or if your employer has at least 50 employees. Under the FMLA your job, status as an employee, and health care coverage cannot be changed because you take the time off.
Check to see if you qualify for FMLA leave. To be eligible you must have worked at least 1250 hours in the last 12 months for your current employer. You must have been with your present employer for at least 12 months, even if you reach the 1250 hours worked mark before that time.
Have a qualified reason for requesting an FMLA leave. You qualify for FMLA if you are sick and cannot work, for care of a member of your immediate family who is seriously ill (spouse, child, or parent), and for birth, care of a newborn infant, or pregnancy complications. You may also use FMLA leave to allow transition time when a child is adopted or placed in your home through foster care.
Request a FMLA form from your supervisor or department of human resources. While you are at it, check on your employer’s policies. Under some circumstances, employers can count FMLA leave as vacation or sick time (but must pay you for any time they classify as such). Fill out your section of the form. You need to state the problem that prevents you from working, but not the cause. For instance, you would need to say that you cannot stand for long periods, but you are not required to disclose the medical condition causing the problem.
Take the form to your doctor, health care provider or other agency (the adoption agency, for example), and have them fill out the certification section. Make sure you and the care provider both sign. Make a photo copy of the FMLA form for your records and turn it in to your employer.
If you will be taking FMLA leave on an intermittent basis (a few days at a time) make a note n each leave request that the FMLA form is on file.
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Based in Atlanta, Georgia, William Adkins has been writing professionally since 2008. He writes about career, employment and job preparation issues. Adkins holds master's degrees in history and sociology with a focus on employment and labor from Georgia State University. He has conducted research sponsored by the National Science Foundation to develop career opportunities for people with disabilities.