FAQ: Medical Leave Act & COVID-19

a person holding a sick person's hand

In light of the current health pandemic, many employees are concerned about what would happen if they need to take a leave of absence after becoming sick or having to take care of a loved one who has contracted the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Keep reading to learn more from our expert attorneys at Charles W. Miller & Associates about what your rights are as a worker during the pandemic.

Who Is Protected Under the Family & Medical Leave Act?

While there has been no update to the legislation, the law is of current concern due to the health crisis surrounding the novel coronavirus. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) ensures that employers will provide their workers with job-protected unpaid leave for medical and family reasons, as well as continued access to employer-provided health insurance.

Accepted Reasons for FMLA Leave

According to the Department of Labor, the FMLA covers all employees during the COVID-19 pandemic who have:

  • Worked for their employer within the last 12 months.
  • Clocked in at least 1,250 hours of service over the last 12 months.
  • Works in a company that has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.

If you are facing one of the following medical or family situations, you are entitled to take job-protected leave:

  • You or a family member are incapacitated by a serious health condition — such as COVID-19.
  • You have to care for a family member who is facing a serious health condition.

When the need is foreseeable, employees should request to take leave at least 30 days in advance. However, exceptions to this condition can be made. Additionally, an employer has the right to request a medical opinion or statement to back up the need for FMLA-provided leave.

Upon returning to work, an employer is required to obtain either a doctor’s note or a medical examination before the employee can start working.

What Isn’t Protected Under the Family and Medical Leave Act?

The FMLA will not cover employees who wish to take a leave of absence out of an abundance of caution to avoid exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. Additionally, there is currently no federal law that mandates job-protected leave for the following situations:

  • Leave for non-government workers who are home to care for healthy children.
  • Guaranteed paid leave provided by employers for those who are at home sick.

While not covered under the FMLA, workers who would like to stay home because they have come in contact with a person who contracted the virus should do so to flatten the curve. Additionally, it is recommended that employers support these workers with flexible leave measures.

What If I’m Laid Off Due to the Pandemic?

If your place of work decides to temporarily close and lay off some but not all of its workers, your employer must ensure they are abiding by the federal regulations under the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This means that employees cannot be discriminating against workers who have requested FMLA leave, along with the following circumstances:

  • Race
  • Sex
  • Age — 40 and over
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Disability

Employee Remedies for Violations by Employers During COVID-19

If you believe that your employer has violated the Family and Medical Leave Act, especially during the current health crisis, an experienced Louisville FMLA attorney at Charles W. Miller & Associates can help. We can review your case, advise you of your rights, and help you fight to recover a just compensation. Since 2003, Charles W. Miller & Associates has helped countless clients across Indiana and Kentucky with their employment and labor law needs. Contact us if you have any questions: (502) 890-9954

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