Out of 173 countries, the U.S. joins the list of three others (Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland) that do not require employers to provide paid maternity leave, according to CBS News. The U.S. may be lagging far behind every developed nation when it comes to maternity or paternity leave, and employee paid time off for vacation and sick days, but the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) does provide a great degree of help to American workers who have a sick family member to tend to or have recently become a new parent.
The Family Medical Leave Act Provides 12 Weeks of Unpaid Time Off
Employers who have over 50 employees must abide by the Family Medical Leave Act, which grants up to 12 weeks per year of unpaid time off without any employer retaliation in the following circumstances:
- To take care of a newborn baby
- To take care of a child placed in your custody for adoption or foster care
- To recover from an illness of your own
- To manage a pregnancy complication
- To take care of a child, spouse, or parent who has an illness
As stated above, your employer cannot retaliate against you for using your 12 weeks of FMLA time. This means that they must accept you back at work at the same pay, with the same benefits, and with the same job title and duties as before you left. They cannot take away vacation days or unpaid time off, force you to work overtime or do anything else that you would not do normally when you return. Moreover, if you were on a group health care plan before you left for your Family Medical Leave Act time off from work, your employer must keep you on that same plan and at the same rate during those 12 weeks, and allow you to stay on that plan when you eventually return.
Know Your Rights
The same number of women are taking maternity leave now in 2018 that were taking it in 1994, a recent study found, despite the U.S. population now being larger by 62 million people and more women having full-time jobs, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Additionally, over half of the women who took time off after giving birth were not compensated for any of it. The fact is that many workers cannot afford to take time off, employers discourage it and threaten their employees to return to work quickly, and many employees are not aware of their rights to take time off for pregnancy complications, to care for a newborn, or to care for a sick family member.
Call a Pennsylvania FMLA Attorney Today
The Family Medical Leave Act is an important tool for all employees to use when they need it, and no employer can lawfully retaliate, fire, demote, or reduce the benefits of an employee who invokes this right. The HKM Employment Attorneys are here to assist those workers who have used the Family Medical Leave Act and were illegally reprimanded by their employee because of it. Call us today for legal assistance.