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What medical conditions would qualify for unpaid leave?

The federal Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, requires employers of a certain size to hold their employees' jobs open. But, only in the event that employees take off of work for an extended period of time due to certain types of medical conditions. The purpose of this act is to allow Detroit, Michigan, residents and others to keep their jobs when they face a difficult life circumstances, like a significant illness.

What qualifies as a medical condition that is serious enough to invoke the protections the FMLA offers workers depends on whether the worker is claiming FMLA leave for herself or for a family member. When a worker claims the unpaid FMLA leave for herself, then she will need to present medical proof, usually in the form of a letter from her treating physician, that demonstrates the employee either cannot go to work at all or, at a minimum, would not be able to perform one of the "essential" job functions of the employee's current position due to a medical condition. It should be noted that childbirth and receiving a newly adopted child in one's home qualify for FMLA.

If a worker seeks time off to care for a family member, then the family member generally must be so ill that the family member needs help meeting basic life needs. An employee can also take time off work to take his or her family member to medical appointments and treatments. In some cases, an employee may be able to take off simply to be with and provide support to his or her family member.

While most employees can appreciate that their employees may need time away from work to take care of a medical problem or attend to a sick family member, other Michigan employers are not so sympathetic and may even try to get around the provisions of the FMLA. In such cases, an employee might have the right to sue.

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