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Can your employer fire you for asking for unpaid leave?

On Behalf of | Nov 21, 2022 | Workplace Retaliation

Not every job offers paid time off. Even those that do have relatively strict limits regarding how much you can accumulate or use at one time. Workers sometimes find themselves in need of a lengthy absence and do not have paid time off available to them.

In some scenarios, workers may have the right to request unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Can your employer fire you if you need to take an unpaid leave of absence?

You have rights in certain situations

The first standard that you need to meet to qualify for unpaid leave under the FMLA is for your employer to have a large enough operation. Typically, only companies with 50 employees or more  within 75miles of where you work have to offer unpaid leave under the FMLA in Ohio.

Secondly, you’ll have to have been with the company for at least a year and put in at least 1,250 hours during the last year. The year of employment does not necessarily need to all occur in one block of employment.

Finally, your situation has to meet the standards set in the FMLA. Workers typically only qualify for leave under the FMLA in three situations. The first is when they need medical care. The second is when their parent, spouse or child requires medical treatment and they will stay home to provide support. The third is when there is a new child entering the family through birth, foster placement or adoption.

There are limits to your leave

Regardless of how many unusual situations affect you and your family in one calendar year, there is an annual limit to how much unpaid leave you can take. For most situations, a worker can only take 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a year.

However, if a worker needs to take a leave of absence to offer medical support to a family member who is an active-duty servicemember, they could potentially get up to 26 weeks of leave. Workers who do not return to work after the maximum allowed amount of FMLA leave could face career consequences, possibly including termination, because of their extended absence beyond what the FMLA allows.

However, workers who come back to work in less than the 12 weeks allowed by law should be able to return to the same position and the same pay. Learning more about your rights under the FMLA can help you when you need to take time off of work.