By Eric Mullins

Medical leave is a benefit that employees can receive when they need to take off of work for medical reasons. For employees who are considering taking off work for medical issues, there are a few things to know about how the process works. Here are six things to know about medical leave.

The FMLA gives you rights — The Family Medical Leave Act is legislation that was passed in 1993 to provide employees with the right to take off work for medical purposes. It covers scenarios like the birth of a child, the adoption of a child, caring for a family member, or a personal health condition.

Paid time off isn’t required — Although employers are required to provide employees with the right to take off work for medical issues, they are not required to pay them. Employers can require employees to use up their paid time off as part of the medical leave. Employers may ask an employee to use up vacation time, sick time, personal days, and any other time that they have off before using medical leave.

Amount of time off varies — There are specific rules about how much time an employee can take off under this legislation. Employees have the right to take off up to 12 weeks throughout the calendar year. However, in order to qualify for the Family Medical Leave Act, the employee has to work there for at least 12 months.

Your employer can’t ask you for specifics — Under the rules of the FMLA, the employer cannot ask for specifics about why the employee is going to be out of the office space for an extended amount of time. If the employee doesn’t want to provide any information about the leave, he does not have to. The employer does have the right to ask for a doctor’s note, but it doesn’t have to specify the condition of the employee.

You must provide notice — When an employee needs to take off for medical leave, it is important to provide the employer with plenty of notice. According to the rules of the Family Medical Leave Act, the employee has to provide written notice at least 30 days ahead of time. The employee should also provide some information about how long he expects to be off of work. While it can be very difficult to predict these kinds of things when dealing with medical issues, the employee simply has to give his best guess.

It can be applied retroactively — Although employees are required to provide advance notice of their intention of going on medical leave, exceptions can be made. For example, if some kind of medical emergency came up, and the employee was not able to provide any notice before missing work, the employer can apply the FMLA leave retroactively. This makes it possible for the employer to take advantage of the medical leave without having to provide notice if something unexpected comes up.

Summary — Overall, medical leave can be a valuable resource for the employee when medical issues present themselves. It can be used for the employee or for members of the employee’s family, in most cases. It is designed to help promote a work-life balance that otherwise may not be there with certain employers.

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