Recognizing the need to protect the rights of families and military service personnel, Congress has enacted two acts:
- The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
These acts allow employees to take extended leave to attend to important family matters, health issues, or military service.
If your employer is preventing you from taking this time off work, you have a right to take them to court! With over five decades of combined experience advocating for employees, our Indianapolis FMLA and USERRA attorneys offer tough employment legal counsel. We can help you assert your right to extended leave.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in Indiana
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, eligible employees may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period. This leave allows you to tend to specified family matters or health concerns. Family members of active military service personnel may qualify for additional leave.
During your leave, your employer cannot terminate your position. FMLA also mandates that your employee health benefits continue under the same conditions during your leave and once you return.
FMLA allows an employee to take time off work for the following events:
- The birth or adoption of a child
- Caring for a family member with a serious health condition
- Handling the demands resulting from a family member's military deployment
- Recovery from a serious medical concern
You are entitled to be restored to your original position or its equivalent when you return. This includes all previously agreed upon terms and conditions of employment, including benefits. An employer may not count your time off against you or retaliate against you in any way for taking FMLA leave.
Notifying Your Employer of Foreseeable Leave
Certain life events, such as a sudden illness or unexpected injury, are unforeseeable. These events do not require prior notification be given to your employer. However, taking leave for foreseeable matters, such as scheduled medical treatments for a serious health concern, does require advanced notification.
The regulations governing how much notice you must give an employer vary greatly and are quite complex. If you are planning on taking FMLA leave in the near future, contact our firm immediately! Our insightful employment attorneys can advise you of your rights and detail your legal responsibilities. We can help you can make informed decisions that will be protected under your FMLA leave.
What is the USERRA?
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act offers protections to individuals who have served in the U.S. military. In many ways, USERRA functions like FMLA does. However, the USERRA specifically helps military service members retain their benefits and right to employment. It also protects employees from military and veteran discrimination in the workplace.
USERRA grants an individual up to five years of leave, allowing them to maintain their rights to be re-employed to their civilian position. It also prohibits employers from firing these employees without cause for up to one year after the employee returns.
Importantly, USERRA mandates that employers reinstate the returning service member to their original position, or an equivalent position. The employer must also offer all promotions and benefits they may have obtained if they had not left for military duty.
Protections in Indiana state law extend to military reserve members as well. Reserve personnel must be granted up to 15 days’ leave per year for training purposes. Employers who prevent employees from taking their allotted time off of work may have criminal sanctions imposed on them.
Requirements for Returning to Work Under USERRA
The USERRA dictates specific periods of time that military service members must report back to work after deployment or activation. These time periods are dependent on how the length of that service member's leave period.
- 30 days or less - Workers are allowed time to travel home and take an 8 hour rest, after which they must request reinstatement for the start of the next work period
- Between 31 and 180 days - Workers must request reinstatement within 14 days of release from military service
- 181 days or more - Workers must request reinstatement within 90 days of release from military service
Missing these deadlines does not automatically disqualify you from reinstatement to your previous position. However, you may need to meet additional requirements.
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Congress places a high value on family bonds and military service. If your employer has inhibited your FMLA or USERRA leave or has retaliated against you, take legal action! Our USERRA and FMLA attorneys are ready to help you protect your rights.
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