Bertelson Law Office Weekly News

Workplace News Weekly

Topic of the Week  Family and Medical Leave

  • I would like to take family or medical leave. How does the law protect me?
  • What is a "serious health condition?"


I would like to take family or medical leave. How does the law protect me?

Under federal law and some state laws, certain employees have the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year (any 12-month period) for the following reasons:

  • you have a serious health condition that keeps you from doing your job;
  • you need to care for a sick child, spouse, or parent with a serious health condition;
  • you need to care for a newborn child, newly adopted child, or foster child.
  • you have a family member who is a covered military member on active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in support of a contingency operation and need time to manage their affairs

In addition, certain eligible employees have the right to take up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave per year (any 12-month period) to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty on active duty.

If you are eligible, you may take family leave (leave to care for someone in your family) or medical leave (leave to seek care for or recover from your own serious health condition) without losing your job.

Under the law, your job is protected during your leave. When you return to work, your employer must give you either the same job you had before your leave, or a position with equivalent benefits, pay, working conditions, and seniority. Your employer must continue to pay for your health insurance coverage during your leave as it normally would have during your employment.
If you qualify for a family or medical leave, you have the right to take that leave free from harassment or discrimination. Your employer cannot interfere with your right to take leave, discriminate against you for requesting information about your rights, or discriminate against you for taking a leave.

What is a "serious health condition?"

A "serious health condition" is an illness, injury, impairment or physical or mental condition that involves:

  • in-patient care in a hospital, hospice or residential medical care facility; or
  • continuing treatment by a health care provider.
  • In general, if you or your family member are
  • incapacitated for more than three consecutive days,
  • seeing a doctor or other health care provider at least twice within 30 days (the first visit must take place within 7 days of the incapacity), and
  • under a regimen of continuing treatment by the health care provider,
  • you or your family member are considered to have a condition that "involves continuing treatment by a health care provider," and are thus protected under the FMLA even if no hospitalization is involved.

However, a regimen of continuing treatment that includes the taking of over-the-counter medications or bed-rest or other similar activities that can be initiated without a visit to a health care provider is not, by itself, sufficient to constitute a regimen of continuing treatment for the purposes of FMLA leave.

Some examples of conditions generally considered "serious" are: heart conditions, strokes, back conditions, injuries caused by accidents, pregnancy and related conditions such as miscarriages and morning sickness, cancer, asthma, pneumonia, diabetes, epilepsy, serious infections, Alzheimer's, and arthritis.

There are many other health conditions not on this list that could also be considered serious health conditions.


Thought of the Week

"When natural disasters such as Hurricane Dorian strike, work may not be the first thought for those hurt and those wanting to help, but it’s not far down the list of concerns. Getting back to work is an important part of getting back to normal for many storm victims. And those not in the path of destruction often want to join their coworkers and employers in relief efforts. In spite of the emergency, though, it’s important for employers to keep their obligations regarding pay, worker safety, and other issues in mind."

–Tammy Binford, Contributing Editor

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Blog of the Week

Top Five News Headlines

  1. Hilton hotels expands paid leave for new parents
  2. ‘There’s a war for people’: strong jobs market belies a shortage of skilled workers
  3. Business, worker groups split over pending increase in Missouri's minimum wage to $7.35 an hour
  4. If restaurant servers get a minimum-wage hike, should you still tip 20 percent?
  5. A new Trump administration proposal could put asylum seekers out of a job

List of the Week

from Workplace Fairness

Top Searches on Leaves this week: 

  • Sick Leave
  • Disability Leave
  • Paid Sick Leave
  • Family Medical Leave
  • Military Leave






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Bertelson Law Office – Union Plaza
333 Washington Ave. N. Suite 402 Minneapolis, MN 55401

Phone +1 (612) 278-9832

Fax (612)340-0190