Paper with Family Medical Leave Act FMLA on a table and grey stethoscope

What Is the Family and Medical Leave Act?

Most people will experience a life event over the course of their career that forces them to need time off work. In these circumstances, employers in Kentucky are required to follow the rules laid out in the Family and Medical Leave Act. This is a federal law granting eligible employees the ability to take unpaid, job-protected leave from work due to medical and family reasons. The law ensures that employees will not have to worry about being terminated or suffering retaliation at the hands of their employer for taking time off for legitimate reasons.

Who Is Covered Under FMLA?

While the scope of the Family and Medical Leave Act is relatively broad, not all employees in the state of Kentucky are covered. Passed in 1993, the act is applicable to private businesses with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius of one another during at least 20 weeks of the previous or current year. Also covered under FMLA are state and local government agencies, public schools, and private schools, regardless of how many people they employ.

An employee whose FMLA rights have been violated by their employer may be eligible for damages through a civil lawsuit.

Family and Medical Leave Act Eligibility

Employees must meet certain requirements to be eligible for FMLA leave. In order to take a leave under FMLA, employees in Kentucky must:

  • Complete one year of employment at their company (does not have to be consecutive)
  • Work for at least 1,250 hours over the course of the previous year
  • Work at a location that employs at least 50 people within a radius of 75 miles

The total amount of time someone can take off from work under FMLA is 12 weeks.

What Situations Qualify for FMLA Leave?

The reasons for which a person may successfully seek time off from work under FMLA vary, but most concern serious life events. It is not uncommon for someone to be denied leave if they are unable to prove that it is necessary. Some common reasons people can take time off under FMLA regulations include:

  • Parental: Welcoming a new baby to the family is a reason for taking FMLA leave. New mothers can use the time for postnatal care and to bond with their baby. Fathers can also take time to care for a spouse who is recovering from birth. The 12-week FMLA leave does not have to be used all at once, which means parents can spread it out over the course of the year.
  • Pregnancy: Certain high-risk pregnancies or pregnancies in which a mother is placed on bed rest can qualify for time off through FMLA. Mothers who request time off for this reason may be required to prove their pregnancy is high risk.
  • Adoption: Adopting a child or being assigned a child through foster care are legitimate reasons to request time off through FMLA. The leave can begin before the child moves into the employee’s home so the employee can prepare.
  • Caring for a loved one: Employees may be granted leave if they need to take time to care for a loved one who has a serious health condition. This only applies to spouses, parents, and children at this time.
  • Employee illness: Employees who cannot perform their job functions due to serious or chronic health conditions may take time off through FMLA.

Employer Violations

If an employer fails to approve time off that is eligible under FMLA, the employee can bring a civil case against the employer. They can recover compensation for damages they sustained due to not being granted the time off. They may also be eligible for reinstatement at their job if they were wrongfully terminated for asking for time off.

If you have reason to believe your employer has violated the Family and Medical Leave Act, contact the Law Office of Pamela C. Bratcher today. With more than 30 years of experience, Attorney Pamela Bratcher is ready to handle your case effectively and compassionately. Contact us at (270) 977-8910 or online to get started.