Some readers from Michigan are likely to understand how difficult it can sometimes be to achieve a satisfactory amount of work-life balance. Although extended leaves of absence for family reasons can create some hardship for employer and employee alike, there are laws in place to prevent an employee from being penalized in such cases.
The Family and Medical Leave Act is intended to provide employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave every year without risking termination. While the employee is on leave, employers under FMLA are required to continue providing them with group health benefits. The purpose of FMLA is to better enable employees to balance the demands of their work and family life in the event of unexpected emergencies or other such circumstances.
In order for an employee to receive leave under FMLA, he or she may have to provide various forms of documentation to demonstrate their eligibility. For example, the employee is generally required to provide notice of their intention to take FMLA leave at least 30 days in advance. The employee may also be required to provide information that substantiates that the FMLA leave will be taken for qualifying reasons; if the employee wishes to have an FMLA absence applied after-the-fact, they typically need to inform an employer of this within two business days.
When there exists a dispute between an employer and an employee regarding leaves of absence such as what may be covered under FMLA, an employer may wish to consult the situation with an attorney before proceeding further. As can be seen, the standards under which FMLA may apply can be somewhat difficult to navigate. An attorney may be able to provide advice specific to the individual circumstances of the dispute and help steer it toward resolution.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor, "The Family and Medical Leave Act," Accessed on Jan. 9, 2015