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When do you need to permit workers to take unpaid leave?

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2021 | Employment Law

As an employer, you need to be able to rely on your employees to show up and do the job that you hired them to perform. Workers who take unexpected leaves of absence can affect your business logistics.

When someone will be gone for more than a few days, you may have no choice but to hire someone new or move someone into that position. Sometimes, your employees will insist that you accommodate them when they need an extended leave of absence. When do you have to allow someone to take weeks off of work if you don’t offer that kind of leave?

When your business is big enough for the law to apply

When a worker requests unpaid leave, they likely make that request under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This employee rights act helps employees but creates a burden for employers.

The law only applies to businesses big enough to absorb a temporary loss of a worker without significant hardship. You need to have at least 50 employees who have worked for your company for at least 20 weeks for the FMLA to apply.

The worker must have a qualifying situation

A worker cannot just take multiple weeks off because they think they need a vacation. They can only request protected leave under the FMLA in a number of specific situations.

The first is if they need medical care. The second is if they need to provide medical care for a qualifying family member. Finally, they can take leave after having a child or adopting one. Usually, workers can only take 12 weeks of leave in one year, but longer leave is an option in scenarios involving active-duty military family members. Understanding the FMLA can help your business comply with this crucial employment law.