It’s been about 30 years since the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was signed into law in 1993. This landmark law changed Denver businesses’ responsibilities toward their employers who are pregnant, have recently had a child or are dealing with a seriously ill family member.
Specifically, FMLA allows eligible employees to take several weeks of unpaid medical or parental leave when necessary, with their jobs waiting for them when they return, and with no interruption in their group health insurance coverage. The law requires employers to allow up to 12 workweeks of leave per 12-month period for:
- Childbirth and caring for the newborn any time within one year of birth.
- Adoption or fostering of a child and caring for the child within one year of placement in the employee’s home.
- Caring for a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition.
- A serious health condition that makes it impossible for the employee to perform the essential functions of their job.
- Any qualifying emergency due to the employee’s child or parent being a covered servicemember on “covered active duty.”
In addition, FMLA guarantees up to 26 work weeks of leave in a 12-month period for workers to care for a seriously injured or ill servicemember parent, spouse, child or next of kin. Many employers offer paid family medical leave, though neither FMLA nor Colorado law requires it.
Understanding your duties under the law
Knowing your rights and responsibilities under FMLA is critical to minimizing the risk of employee complaints and potential litigation. Consulting with an employment law attorney on your company’s medical leave policies and procedures can save you a lot of headaches in the future.