Work Worries

When your responsibilities as a caregiver conflict with your work, you might find relief in the terms of the Family Medical Leave Act.

Patients and caregivers often worry about taking time off from work—either to manage their own treatment or to care for a family member—and the uncertainty of whether or not they will be able to keep their job can be a huge stressor in an already overwhelming situation. When faced with this scenario, caregivers and patients should be aware of the provisions of the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA).

All employers who have 50 or more employees must abide by the act, which provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave for eligible employees who are themselves sick or who must care for a family member. Eligible employees are those who have worked for the employer for at least 12 months or 1,250 hours. Family members, as defined by the act, include parents, children (including adult children who are unable to care for themselves) and spouses.

The 12 weeks provided for by the FMLA do not need to be taken consecutively, and the time can actually be broken up into smaller periods of days, weeks or even hours. If an employee has accrued sick or vacation leave, they can also use this during the time they take. Spouses who are employed by the same company are entitled to a combined total of 12 weeks.

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