Being an employer means that you have to balance what benefits the company with what is good for your staff. Obviously, happy employees are productive employees, but you don’t want to make employment decisions that keep your company from being solvent.
Benefits are often a major expense for employers. Both paid and unpaid leave can affect how much it costs your company to operate. Paid leave can obviously have implications for your operating expenses, while unpaid leave could affect efficiency and performance. If an employee requests unpaid leave, do you have an obligation to allow it?
Both your company and the employee have to meet certain criteria
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) only applies to certain employees and certain businesses. Your company will typically need to have at least 50 employees. The employee in question will also need to have work for a year for your company and put in a minimum number of hours. If your situation needs both of those criteria, then a employee may have the right to request leave in certain, approved scenarios.
When does an employee have the right to ask for unpaid leave?
The goal of the FMLA is to give employees an opportunity to take time off to heal when medically necessary and to allow them to provide support for their family members. The situations in which a worker can take unpaid leave include adding a child to their family through birth, foster placement or adoption.
They may also need time off for their own medical care. Finally, employees can take time off to care for a spouse, child or parent who has a serious medical condition. Most employees can receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. However, for those supporting a family member who is an active military member, the total leave increases to as much as 26 weeks.
Knowing if an employee qualifies for FMLA can help you avoid making employment decisions that could mean noncompliance and financial or legal consequences for your company.