The Family and Medical Leave Act, otherwise known as the FMLA, exists to allow employees up to twelve weeks a year of (unpaid) time off to provide temporary care for loved ones who are unable to care for themselves. Upon returning to work, the employee is required to be reinstituted into his or her old position with the same benefits and salary he or she enjoyed prior to taking leave.
If you are asking yourself the question posed in this headline, you are probably already struggling with a health condition that has the potential to seriously upset your ability to do your job. Perhaps it has already started to affect your attendance or performance.
If you suffer from a disability or serious health condition that requires you to take time off work, a few different laws may protect your job during your medical leave of absence. Your job may be protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and/or federal, state, and city disability discrimination laws. Each of these laws provide different protections and operate separate and apart from each other, so even if the FMLA doesn't protect your job, the disability discrimination laws may.
If you need to take time away from your job to have a child or care for yourself or a loved one with a medical condition, you likely want to do so with an understanding of what protections you have in place. Will you have a job when you return? How much time will you be allowed to take? Will you be paid during this time?
Enacted in 1993, the Family Medical Leave Act provides employees with job security protection in the event that he or she has a qualifying family and/or medical reason that, under FMLA, warrants a leave. During a 12-month period, employees with qualifying circumstances can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from their jobs.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects female employees from suffering workplace discrimination based on their "pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions." These protections extend to activities related to hiring, job assignments, health insurance and other benefits, temporary disability and maternity leave.