It is important for employees to be able to take time away from work to address personal or family health issues without risking employment.
The Family Medical Leave Act safeguards these employee rights at the federal level. Moreover, New York has additional protections for workers in the form of Paid Family Leave.
Family Medical Leave Act
Under the FMLA, eligible employees in the United States can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave each year. You may use leave for several reasons, including health problems, family care responsibilities and the birth or adoption of a child.
When you take FMLA leave, your health insurance coverage continues as if you were working. Upon your return, your employer must restore you to your former position or an equivalent role with the same benefits and pay. Your employer must not interfere with your right to take FMLA leave or retaliate against you for doing so.
Paid Family Leave in New York
In addition to FMLA, the state’s PFL program offers more benefits for New Yorkers. PFL provides paid leave to bond with a new child or care for a family member with a serious health condition. Unlike FMLA leave, you do not have to use your vacation days when you utilize PFL.
PFL also ensures you can return to your original job or a comparable one after your leave. Your health insurance remains in effect during this time, but you must keep up with your insurance premium contributions to maintain coverage.
Addressing employer retaliation
If you face retaliation for taking leave, you can file a complaint to protect yourself. Retaliation can include demotions, pay cuts or unwarranted disciplinary action. It is a good idea to document instances of retaliation, including dates, times and all communication related to the issue. Documentation can support your claim and provide a clear record of your employer’s actions.
Both state and federal laws ensure you do not have to choose between your health and your job. Understanding these protections is key so you can take necessary leave, knowing that your job and benefits remain secure.