Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for unpaid leave from your job under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Under FMLA, eligible employees can take off a maximum of 12 weeks of work, unpaid, during a 12-month period. Furthermore, taking FMLA entitles you to job reinstatement privileges.
If you qualify for FMLA, give your human resources department as much notice as possible. For example, if you plan on taking FMLA after the birth of your child, provide your company with the due date. This will give them a better idea of when you'll be away from work, allowing them to plan accordingly.
If you're ineligible for FMLA, perhaps because your employer has fewer than 50 employees, it's critical to learn more about your other options. These often include:
- Employer assistance: Depending on your situation, your employer may offer unpaid time off to tend to your medical needs or those of a loved one.
- Vacation time: If you have vacation time, you can use it as an alternative to FMLA. It's clearly not as exciting as taking a vacation, but it'll allow you to receive pay while you're away from work.
- Short-term or long-term disability: If offered through your employer, learn more to determine if you qualify for disability leave.
If you're eligible for FMLA, don't hesitate to take full advantage when necessary. And if you're not, learn about other options for taking time away from work.
If your employer violates your legal rights under the federal Family Medical Leave Act, such as by terminating your employment upon making a request, learn more about what you can do.