If you are in need of a leave of absence from work, you may be filling out FMLA forms. Find out here if you are eligible for a leave and what the paperwork entails.
FMLA (the Family and Medical Leave Act) was established to help parents, caregivers of an ill immediate family member, and those who are battling illnesses themselves to get the time off work they need without losing their place at work.
To begin the process of obtaining your leave, you must first learn the guidelines and find out if you are eligible. The following are the United States Department of Labor FMLA guidelines:
- Eligible employees are allowed up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off per year
- New parents as well as adoptive and foster parents
- Those caring for an immediate family member with a documented illness
- Employees who are ill and have a serious medical illness
Once you have reviewed these guidelines, you may be ready to file your papers. However, it's best to see what programs your company may offer first. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Talk to your employer first and find out if any company policies will allow you to take a leave. It is a good idea to save your FMLA time if possible since it may be needed for another purpose later.
- Be sure you are eligible for an FMLA leave, if it is your only option. Find out how much time you have invested in your company. While your employer may be required by law to allow you 12 weeks per year of unpaid time, you must have worked enough hours to earn your time. In addition, the FMLA laws do not apply to small companies, only companies with a staff of 50 or better qualify.
- Sit down with a company representative, preferably someone who is unbiased about your leave. You may learn a lot about your company's policies--or at the very least obtain a recent copy of the policies and read them yourself.
- Find out about vacation time, maternity leave, and sick days. You may be able to combine them to get the maximum amount of time off.
Filing for a Leave
If you feel your situation warrants an FMLA leave, it's time to get started on your forms. Once you receive them from your employer, note the date they are due since you may only have a few weeks to complete them. For a busy working gal, this may not be much, especially if you have to hand them off to your medical provider. In addition, some doctor's offices charge a small few for their part in processing the papers, so check into your doctor's policy.
One of the first decisions you may need to make is how to take your time off. Sometimes you have the option to take an intermittent leave instead, depending on your medical reasons.
An intermittent leave may benefit you if you have a medical condition that causes you to become ill. Since you cannot control when you will be sick, you have the option to take days as need. The staggered time is subtracted from the total amount of time your leave allows. If you decide to take this type of leave, you will need to fill out your forms accordingly.
Once your paperwork is complete, make copies. If they should get lost in the shuffle at your workplace, you will have proof of your filling and can avoid starting over. If you have chosen an intermittent leave, count the hours or days you miss to keep track of your total time.
Update your paperwork as needed. You may need to fill out new FMLA forms every six months.