BCS: Helping business clients with opportunities and through crises since 1995

The impact of the Family and Medical Leave Act on a business

Business owners and managers have to strike a delicate balance between doing what is best for their company and what is best for their employees. Employment law exists to benefit both sides by making certain legal issues surrounding employees clear-cut. The Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, was created to guarantee certain employees that they would not lose their job if they had to temporarily leave work for a few specified reasons. Here is a general overview of what the FMLA entails and how that applies to Georgia businesses.

There are only certain circumstances where the FMLA applies, though when the requirements are fulfilled, employees may take up to 12 weeks off, unpaid, without any fear of losing their job. The employee must have worked at least 20 weeks for the company, and the law only applies to companies, both public and private, with at least 50 employees or greater. Workers who are considered independent contractors are not included.

There are multiple reasons an employee may be able to take advantage of the FMLA. One of the most common reasons is for the birth of a child, though adoption or taking in a foster child also qualify. The treatment of a serious health condition is also a typical reason, whether the employee is the one with the condition or an immediate family member, such as the employee’s spouse, child or parent. The Act essentially assures an employee that his or her job will still be in place once that 12-week period elapses, though employers are not required to pay the worker for that time.

Understanding the application of the Family and Medical Leave Act is crucial for qualifying companies. If a worker feels that he or she has not been afforded what the FMLA protects, there could be significant legal consequences for a business owner. If any questions arise regarding an employee’s use of the FMLA, the guidance of a Georgia attorney with extensive knowledge of business and employment law may prove invaluable.