Sometimes, unexpected events simply happen, and one might need time away from work in order to deal with the fallout. In these cases, most people choose to take leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), assuming they are able. However, for some it is not possible to do this. If you have experienced a major life event and need time off, you need to ensure that you are able to take FMLA leave before applying to do so.
Does It Apply To My Employer?
The first question you need to investigate is whether or not the FMLA applies to your employer, as it does not apply to everyone. The Act applies to all public agencies, such as federal entities or public elementary and secondary schools, but in terms of private employers, it is only in force for those with 50 or more employees. The rationale at the time of passage was that for smaller employers, the costs associated with FMLA compliance would simply be too great.
If you work for an employer with fewer than 50 staff, you may have to pursue your issue on an individual basis with your Human Resources department, as the FMLA does not cover you. While other states may have laws mirroring the FMLA that apply to smaller companies, South Carolina has no such law as of this writing. This does not mean that your employer and you may not be able to work out an arrangement, but it does mean that no provision to do so exists in law.
Does It Apply To Me Personally?
Assuming that your employer is large enough to be covered by FMLA rules, or you work for a public entity, you must then be certain that you have worked enough hours and have the right type of job to be able to take FMLA leave. In order to personally qualify for leave, the employee must have worked for the same employer for at least 12 months. This does not necessarily have to be in sequence, as seasonal work does count. You must also have worked at least 1,250 hours during that time (which works out to approximately 25 hours per week). Your employer must also have at least 50 employees available within 75 miles of your job site (so as to ensure your work will be managed during your leave).
There are certain exceptions to these requirements. For example, airline personnel have to meet different criteria. But generally, these rules must be abided by, and if you do not qualify, you do not qualify. Also, there are other details that are important to be aware of to ensure that FMLA is the right decision for you. For example, while you may use any accrued paid leave while out on FMLA, paid leave is not guaranteed under the Act. If your family needs the income, but you have no paid leave accrued, you may not wish to take leave, or find another way to do so.
Contact An Experienced Attorney
Sometimes the need for leave or time off can strike out of nowhere. It is a good idea to be aware of FMLA rules at all times to ensure that you are able to take leave when you need it. If you have questions, contacting an attorney can help get them answered. Attorney A. Christopher Potts has handled employment law cases for years and is happy to help you determine your best path forward.
Contact our Charleston office today to set up an appointment.