Family and Medical Leave Act – Refusing to Accept Light Duty Offer
In Florida, an injured worker may eventually lose his/her job if he/she gets injured and is unable to return to full duty. An employer does not have to keep a position open indefinitely. An injured worker may take a leave of absence from work and is protected for that time under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). If an employer offers light duty work to an injured worker, and the injured worker refuses to accept this offer, the employee may lose his/her workers’ compensation benefits, even though his/her position is protected under the FMLA.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provide certain employees the right to take time away from work for certain family and medical reasons, typically unpaid (You may have to draw on your sick/vacation time bank or apply for STD/LTD if available). Your employer cannot terminate or retaliate against you if you are on FMLA leave without legal consequences. Typically, an employee’s fringe benefits like group health insurance benefits remain in force, but you must double check with Human Resources to determine who will be paying the premiums. FMLA protects 12 workweeks within a 12-month period for the following:
- Birth of child and caring for a newborn child within a year of birth;
- Taking care of a foster child within one year of foster care placement;
- Caring for employee’s child, parent, or spouse who is suffering from a serious health condition;
- The employee is suffering from a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of their job; and
- A qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty.
Additionally, an employee may take up to 26 workweeks during a single 12-month period in order to:
- Care for a spouse, child, parent, or next of kin who is a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness.
Do I Qualify for the Federal Medical Leave Act?
Not all employees are protected by the FMLA. Private employers with 50 or more employees must offer the FMLA. In order to qualify, the employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months (months do not need to be concurrent), and worked for that employer for at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 months, according to the Employee’s Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act. The last qualifying criterion for the FMLA is that your employer has at least 50 employees within a 75 mile radius of the worksite. If there are 100 employees but they are all spread out over a large area, you and your fellow employees may not qualify for the FMLA.
Call a West Palm Beach Workers’ Compensation Attorney
The FMLA is complicated, as is workers’ compensation. The situation becomes more complex when the two are combined. Employers may accidentally or intentionally violate your rights. A West Palm Beach workers’ compensation attorney with the Celeste Law Firm can help today.