Understanding Family Medical Leave in Maryland

October 21, 2020
The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford

family and medical leave act paperwork

Given the current situation we’re all in at this time, you may have questions about the Family Medical Leave Act and how it may work for your particular circumstances. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that was passed in 1993. The purpose of the Act is to protect employees from losing their job when they need to take an extended leave of absence due to a medical condition. While the FMLA provides important protections, the law is complicated and has considerable limitations. If you are facing a medical condition that may require you to miss work for an extended period of time, our Maryland employment lawyer can help you understand your rights. 

The Basics of FMLA

The FMLA essentially protects your job in the event that you need to take an extended leave of absence that would use up all of your paid leave or go beyond what is considered acceptable by your employer. In other words, your employer must allow you to return to your job provided that you otherwise meet the requirements of the law. 

Generally speaking, FMLA entitles you to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in any given 12-month period. If you are caring for someone who has been injured while on active military duty, you may be entitled to 16 weeks of unpaid leave. 

FMLA leave is generally available in the following situations:

  • The employee’s own health condition. You are entitled to FMLA leave If you are recovering from a serious medical issue. This includes situations where you require in-patient treatment or are unable to perform normal activities for three days. 
  • A family member’s serious health condition. You are entitled to FMLA leave to care for your parents, your spouse, or your children while they recover from a serious health condition. Note that this protection does not extend to grandparents, in-laws, or domestic partners, or siblings. 
  • Birth, adoption, or foster care. You are entitled to leave if you give birth or adopt a child. You are also entitled to leave if you take a foster child into your home. 
  • Service-related injuries. You are entitled to leave to care for a family member who was seriously injured while on active duty in the military. 
  • Other service-related situations. The FMLA protects your job related to specific matters related to a family member’s active duty such as spending time with your family member is about to be deployed. 

If you need to leave your job for one of these reasons, you may be entitled to protection under the FMLA. However, the FMLA must apply to your employer and you must meet some additional qualifications in order to be eligible. An experienced Maryland employment lawyer can review your situation and explain whether the FMLA applies to you. 

Employers Covered by the FMLA

The FMLA does not apply to all employers. Your employer must protect your job only if they have 50 or more employees who work within a 75-mile radius. All employees on your employer’s payroll count, whether full-time or part-time. If your employer has fewer than 50 employees, they may therefore terminate your employment if you need to take an extended leave of absence. 

Employees Must Qualify

In order to qualify for protection under the FMLA, you need to meet the following criteria: 

  • You have worked for your employer for at least one year; 
  • You worked at least 1,250 hours (approximately 25 hours per week) in the last 12 months. 

If you have worked for your employer for less than one year or do not have the requisite number of hours, your employer may be able to terminate you and hire someone else. 

Maryland FMLA Protections

Because the FMLA is a federal law, it applies to all employers in every state. However, Maryland law provides a couple of additional protections: 

  • Employees who are adoptive parents are entitled to the same leave as employees who have given birth. This law applies to employers who have 15 or more employees. 
  • Employees who have a family member on active duty in the military are entitled to the day off when their service member leaves for or returns from deployment. To qualify for this benefit, your employer must have at least 50 employees, and you must meet the same eligibility requirements as under federal law. 

Questions Concerning FMLA? Contact Our Maryland Employment Lawyer

The FMLA provides vital protections to workers across the state of Maryland. Unfortunately, some employers fail to recognize that it applies to them. If you’re worried about your job or you’ve already been terminated, we can help. To schedule an appointment to discuss your case, call the Law Firm of J.W. Stafford at 410-514-6099, or simply complete our online contact form.