Understanding your Rights When You Return from an FMLA Leave

With the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), certain employees can take an unpaid leave of up to 12 weeks during a 12-month period. Usually, employees who have a chronic medical condition or a form of disability may qualify for this leave. If you are one of these employees, you need to know your rights when you return to work or can’t return because of your disability. Should your employer uphold these rights, New Jersey employment lawyers can help you take action. As a returning employee after an FMLA leave, the following are your rights:

The Right to be Reinstated

When you return from FMLA leave, your employer should return you to your previous position or in a comparable position that is similar in each aspect to your previous position like wages, benefits, worksite, or job duties. You should be reinstated right when you come back to work. But, your employee may request notice of your return.

In some instances, reinstatement may not be possible. This can happen when the entire department was laid off during the leave. But, the employee in question should be told about this possibility before they take an FMLA leave. Also, you may not be reinstated if you took FMLA to leave fraudulently.

The Right to Get a Raise

When you return from FMLA leave for a disability or chronic condition, your employer must give you the same pay as before you took the leave. This applies to both wages and raises.

The Right to Have your Benefits Restored

These benefits are subjected to any changes that occurred within your company while you were on leave. For instance, if your company changed its life insurance plan during your leave period, you are entitled to get benefits under the new plan when you return to work.

The Right to Request an Extended Leave of Absence

Should you fail to recover from your disability with the period allowed by the FMLA, you must consult an employment attorney.  You might qualify for an extended leave of absence under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  This extension will serve as a reasonable accommodation when you request it and if there is a specific date for your return to work. And even if you cannot return to your previous position, you may be entitled to a transfer to a different position. Should your employer refuse your reinstatement, you have the right to sue them for damages. 

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Written by David Thacker

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