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You may find yourself in a position where you unable to work due to either your own illness or a family member’s illness. There are some steps you can take and protections already in place designed to help you maintain employment and ultimately, your 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 for a qualified medical reason for yourself or to serve as a caregiver for your child, spouse or parent. 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
Leave can be taken all at once or a few hours at a time
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 arisen due to active military duty, which may qualify family members to take up to 12 weeks of leave
You are the spouse, child, parent or next of kin of a member of an Armed Forces member with a serious injury or illness, which may qualify family members 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. You may be required to use your vacation and sick time before you are allowed to take unpaid leave.