Medical Leave from Work When Sick

You may find yourself in a position where you unable to work due to your illness, but there are some steps you can take and protections already in place designed to help you maintain employment and your employer-based health insurance benefits.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives you the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from work when dealing with a documented serious medical issue. You are only required to provide limited medical information to your employer, but you must provide documentation from a physician that supports your request for leave.

You are eligible for FMLA leave if:

  • You have worked at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months; the 12 months do not need to be consecutive
  • You work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius
  • You need time off for the birth and care of a newborn child or placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care;
  • There is an urgent family situation due to active military duty
  • You are the spouse, child, parent or next of kin of a member of an armed forces with a serious injury or illness. In this scenario, family members may qualify to take up to 26 work weeks to care for the service member.

In addition to protecting your job, FMLA allows you to maintain your group health insurance coverage as though you are still actively at work.

When you return to work, your employer must return you to your original position or an equivalent job with the same pay, benefits and other employment terms.

Your employer may require you to use your paid vacation and sick time before you are allowed to take unpaid leave, based on their defined employee policies. FMLA leave can be taken all at once or a few hours at a time to total 12 weeks.

FMLA also protects you if medical issues are affecting a close family member like a child, spouse or parent and you are serving as a caregiver.

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