Balancing a career and a family is very difficult to do.
Many employees are working longer hours for less pay than they were just a few years ago. The economy has made everything more expensive and jobs in certain fields are very hard to come by. Very rarely can a couple afford to have one spouse act as a stay-at-home parent and instead must entrust the care of their children to family or babysitters. Job schedules can also make it difficult to attend extra-curricular activities and school functions.
In 1993, the ‘Family & Medical Leave Act’ (FMLA) was created in order to assist with the very issues that are listed above. It was meant to help employees who found it difficult to balance work with their personal lives. It is most commonly used when maternity leave is needed. It guarantees up to 12 weeks of time off from work for certain life-changing events including the addition of a new child (through foster care, birth, adoption, etc.), caring for a sick family member or an employees own health problems. Whether or not the leave is paid or unpaid is up to the discretion of the employer. Normally, employees will have to use their cumulative paid time off or vacation time in order to receive income during that time.
The Act doesn’t discriminate against men or women. If men need to take a leave of absence from work for their spouse having a child, they are able to under FMLA. The act also requires that employees continue to receive the same health care benefits and job position that they had when leaving. It is illegal for an employee to be demoted or fired for taking a leave of absence for any of the reasons covered under the act. It is also open for couples who are not married and does acknowledge same-sex couples. Employees must fill out the necessary forms in order to take their FMLA leave and should give employers adequate notice of their intended leave.
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