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Review of the Family Medical Leave Act

Many workers in Detroit, Michigan, from time to time have emergencies or other special situations come up that could require that they be away from work for an extended period of time. For example, a Detroit resident may need a few weeks off while recovering from a surgery or other medical problem. In other cases, a new parent will want to take off so he or she can be with his or her new child.

The Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, protects these workers from having to sacrifice their job in order to deal with these important life circumstances. Basically, for things like having a baby or taking care of a medical condition, a worker can take 12 weeks out of the year off from work without having to worry about there being a position for him or her when he or she returns to work.

Leave can also be taken for an employee to provide care to a close relative, like a child, who has a significant "qualifying" medical condition.

To be clear though, the leave required under the FMLA is "unpaid," meaning that all an employer has to do is provide the person with his or her old job or a different position that is equivalent in all important respects. Things like paid maternity leave, paid disability or even vacation time remain optional benefits which a Michigan employer may or may not provide.

Not every employee is eligible for FMLA benefits. For one, only employers of a certain size have to comply with the Act, so an employee of a small business may want to check on what rights they have by consulting an employment law attorney. Moreover, a person who wants FMLA benefits has to have worked for the same employer for at least a year and must also be putting a certain number or hours during that year, as the FMLA is aimed at protecting full time employees.

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