The Florida Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a labor law designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons, as well as for issues relating to domestic violence.

FMLA provides eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year, and also requires that their group health benefits be maintained during the leave. Military caregivers are eligible to take up to 26 work weeks of FMLA leave in a single 12-month period.

FMLA seeks to accommodate legitimate interests of employers and promote equal employment opportunity for men and women. The law applies to all public agencies, all public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees.

In order to be eligible, the employee must:

• have worked for the company for a total of 12 months, not necessarily consecutively
worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous year, and
• work at a location with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius

Eligible health related issues include:

• Birth and care of the employee’s child, or placement for adoption or foster care of a child with the employee
• Care of an immediate family member (spouse, child, parent) who has a serious health condition
• Care of the employee’s own serious health condition
• Military family leave provides protections specific to the needs of military families

Employees that file for FMLA leave must provide medical verification to support eligibility. Their health care provider must provide certification that validates the employee’s health condition or that of an immediate family member. This documentation must be submitted in a timely manner, as does the employer’s acknowledgement.

FMLA leave may be denied under the following conditions:
  • If the leave is foreseeable and the employee does not give 30 days advance notice
  • If the employee doesn’t present the proper medical certification or does not get second or third opinions as requested. (Third medical opinions are paid for by the employer.)
  • If they don’t submit a fitness for duty report to the employer

If an employer violates FMLA, the following remedies may be provided, limited to 12 weeks:

• Wages
• Employment Benefits
• Denied or Lost Compensation
• Actual Monetary Loss
• Other Damages
• Attorney Fees
• Expert Witness Fees
• Florida Domestic Violence Leave

FMLA does not affect federal, state, or local laws that provide greater leave rights.

As with most employment laws, the FMLA can quickly become difficult to navigate. When in doubt, get help and contact Employment Law Attorney Derek Usman at 813-377-1197.

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