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Handling Medical Leave

Pennsylvania employment lawyers provide experienced counsel to employers regarding medical leave.Under Pennsylvania law, employers must follow the mandates of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by granting unpaid leave to employees for certain personal or family related reasons. The laws can become very complicated when FMLA requests are combined with laws governing the Americans With Disabilities Act and Workers’ Compensation laws. A qualified and experienced employment lawyer can help employers sift through this myriad array of laws.

FMLA Coverage and Approved Leave

An employer with 50 or more employees for a period of 20 consecutive weeks must comply with the federal FMLA laws. The FMLA provides unpaid leave to an employee for a period of 12 to 26 weeks each year and protects their benefits and position while they are away. There are certain restrictions that apply to this benefit that employers need to know.

  • Employees must have worked for their employer for at least one year, and a minimum of 1,250 hours in the previous year.
  • The employee must also work for an employer with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
  • Family leave can be requested to bond with a new child, whether the child is born to or adopted by the employee.
  • FMLA applies to employees recuperating from surgery or a health crisis, or to care for a family member with a serious health issue.
  • Family leave can also be granted to an employee that experiences extenuating circumstances imposed by a family member’s military service, or to care for a family member that has been wounded while on active duty.

Employer Obligations Under FMLA

In Pennsylvania, eligible employees can be granted up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year. The leave does not have to be consecutive. In other words, the employee may ask for six weeks leave to care for a new child, and then request another six weeks later in the year to care for an aging parent. Family leave can be extended from 12 to 26 weeks for an employee to care for a family member that was seriously injured while on active military duty. This type of leave cannot be extended or granted again unless the same family member or another family member is injured while actively serving in the armed forces.

Employers must continue health insurance benefits for the employee for the duration of their medical leave and at the same contribution rate. The eligible employee may also use their paid time off, vacation time, and sick days during the FMLA leave period. In certain instances, employers can require employees to use this pay during their medical leave.

Upon the termination of FMLA leave, employees have the right to be reinstated to the same position they held when they requested their leave of absence, or to an equivalent position within the company. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but an employer must prove that reinstating the employee to their former position would cause a hardship to the company.

The Pennsylvania employment lawyers at MacMain, Connell & Leinhauser provide experienced counsel and representation to employers for a wide variety of employment issues. Call us at 484-318-7106 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our West Chester office allows us to serve clients throughout Philadelphia and across the state of Pennsylvania.