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Unpaid leave is possible for childbirth and other incidents

Employees aren't robots, so employers shouldn't expect them to be able to work every shift without having any issues. Things like illnesses, pregnancies, adoptions and sick children come up. This is where the Family and Medical Leave Act comes into the picture.

Workers who are covered under the FMLA can take unpaid time off of work. There are certain qualifications that employees must meet to take the time off and there are limits to this leave. You can take the leave all at once, you can use it intermittently or you can use it to cover a reduced work schedule. Additional restrictions apply for these cases.

The unpaid leave only includes a total of 12 weeks in a 12-month period. It can only be taken for time off for the birth of a child, the adoption of a child, sick leave for the employee, time to care for the employee's immediate family or the placement of a foster child in the home. Interestingly, employees can't use the FMLA to care for in-laws.

Only certain employees can use the FMLA coverage. You must have worked for your employer for 12 months prior to needing time off. The location where you work must have 50 employees or there must be that many employees total in a 75-mile radius. You must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months.

If you meet the requirements and your situation falls under a covered area, your employer must provide you with the leave as long as you follow established procedures to get the time off. If you are denied this leave, you might opt to take action against the employer for an FMLA violation.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, "Wage and Hour Division (WHD): The Family and Medical Leave Act," accessed May 16, 2017

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