The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is designed to accommodate employees who must be absent from work for an extended period (up to 12 weeks) to deal with either their own medical conditions or to assist close family members. The policy preserves employees’ jobs and health benefits while they are away from their place of employment. Though FMLA does not require employers to provide paid leave, it most often does allow for paid sick or personal days to be applied to leave time. Fortunately for New York workers, state law provides even greater protection for employees of private companies. We will discuss New York benefits after we cover underlying federal law.
FMLA is invaluable to new parents who need maternity or paternity leave, to employees dealing with their own surgery, illness, or medical treatment or to those who must be away from work to tend to family members with serious medical issues. If you are an employee with questions or problems regarding your medical leave, or an employer confused about your responsibilities in providing such leave, Scaffidi & Associates, a highly esteemed employment law practice in Manhattan, has attorneys with the in-depth knowledge and well-honed skills to clarify issues and take appropriate actions to protect your interests.
How Scaffidi & Associates Assists Clients with FMLA Issues
Even beneficial government programs can sometimes be a quagmire for workers trying to obtain time off they are legally entitled to and/or to employers trying hard to remain in compliance with ever-changing federal and state laws. As FMLA stands now, it applies to:
- All public schools, both elementary and secondary
- All state, federal and local agencies
- All private employers who employ 50 or more employees for at least 20 workweeks
If you are involved in an employee/employer dispute about your medical leave rights or feel you are being treated unfairly, it is time to schedule a consultation with one of our sharp Family Leave Act attorneys. Your needs, costs, and well-being are our priority. Whether you are an employee being denied medical leave or an employer being accused of discrimination or retaliation, Scaffidi & Associates is here to support you. Whichever side you’re on, we’re on your side.
Allowable Reasons for Family Medical Leave Under FMLA
Under the FMLA, employees are allowed 12 workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for:
- Birth and care of a newborn
- Adoption or foster care of a child newly placed within the year
- Care of a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition
- Serious health condition of the employee him or herself
- Replacement childcare for a spouse, child, or parent deployed to active military duty
The FMLA extends medical leave to 26 workweeks in a 12-month period for an employee to care for a son, daughter, spouse, or parent who is on active duty in the military and is suffering due to serious illness or injury.
It should be noted that employers can require employees applying for medical leave under FMLA to provide medical certification of a serious medical condition. They are not, however, permitted to demand actual medical records. Also, it is against the law for employers to retaliate against an employee who accuses the company of violating FMLA standards.
Notable Exceptions to FMLA Coverage
Many people are dismayed to find that in-laws, siblings, and grandparents, no matter how close to employees emotionally, even if they live in the same household, are not included under FMLA. Neither are children over the age of 18 unless they have a serious disability that makes them “incapable of self-care.” Exceptions are made for relatives who served as surrogate parents for the employee during childhood.
New York State Paid Family Leave Act
Since January 1, 2018, employees of private companies in New York (not employees of state or federal government or public authorities) have the added advantage of partially paid family leave through the New York State Paid Family Leave Act. In order to be eligible they must have worked 26 consecutive weeks as a full-time employee, or 175 days as a part-time employee. Those who are self-employed can also opt in to this coverage. All employees will contribute to this benefit by having a small percentage withheld from each of their paychecks.
Incremental Increases of the New York State Family Leave Act
While the employee is only paid a percentage of his or her current salary, the act is constructed so that both the number of weeks covered and the percentages of medical leave pay will increase over the coming years. Already, in January of 2019, employee payments, which now run for 10 weeks, have been increased to 55 percent of the average weekly wage. By 2021, employees will be entitled to 12 weeks of paid family leave and can receive up to 67 percent of their average weekly wages.
Contact Our New York City FMLA Lawyer
As you can see, FMLA and the New York State Family Leave Act, like so many other government laws, are not as simple as they first appear. If you are confused by their complexity, our well-informed FMLA attorneys will clarify every aspect of each law. If, as an employer, you don’t know how to ensure that you implement policies in full compliance with the law, Scaffidi & Associates is here to keep you within legal bounds. If, as an employee, you don’t understand whether your situation qualifies you for medical leave, or if you have other questions about how the process works, Scaffidi attorneys will guide you. No matter what type of FMLA legal advice or action you’re seeking, you will find us to be efficient, effective and compassionate. Contact us by phone or through our website so we can begin making your situation easier.