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How much unpaid leave can a sick or injured worker take?

On Behalf of | Oct 21, 2022 | Employment

Some employers are more supportive of their employees than others. There are companies that offer extensive paid time off (PTO) options for both medical leave and vacation purposes. Other companies do not give their employees the option of receiving paid time off and instead leave them dependent on certain federal rules. 

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows workers who are sick, adjusting to a new child in the family or supporting an immediate family member with a medical issue to take unpaid time off of work. How much FMLA leave can a worker request? 

There is an annual limit to FMLA leave

There are several layers of qualifications that apply to FMLA leave requests. The company needs to be large enough. The worker needs to have stayed with the company for long enough, and their need for leave must fall into one of three approved categories. 

Provided that a situation meets all three of those standards, a worker could request unpaid leave for their own medical care, to recover from pregnancy or to help take care of a loved one. Most employees can only receive up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave in a calendar year. Even if they experience multiple qualifying events, they will not be able to ask for more leave within the same year. 

However, there is an exception to that rule. If an employee takes time off of work not for their own healthcare needs but to support a family member, they may qualify for more unpaid leave under the FMLA. Those caring for a member of their family who is a military service member and has a condition related to their service could receive up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave. 

Making sense of workplace laws, like the FMLA will help employers remain in compliance and employees take better care of themselves and their loved ones.