We are picking up the discussion from our Dec. 11 post about both the federal and the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Acts. While most people know that the FMLA exists, surprisingly few know what rights are protected. It is one of those laws that you don’t really think about until you need to — but when you need to, chances are you are stressed out about a family illness or your own upcoming surgery, and the FMLA is just one more thing to deal with.
It’s important for employees to know about the FMLA, though, because (in broad terms) the law protects an employee’s job and health insurance when the worker takes time off to have a baby, to adopt a child, to take care of a sick family member or to have surgery. Only employees who have worked for a defined number of hours over a defined period qualify for the benefit.
To be eligible in Wisconsin, the person must work for 1,000 hours for 52 consecutive weeks. The federal law requires 1,250 hours of work during the 52 weeks immediately preceding the leave. The typical full-time employee works 40 hours each week for 52 weeks, or 2,080 hours per year.
For many part-time employees, the threshold is difficult to meet. Unscrupulous employers may even arrange part-time schedules to make sure the workers don’t qualify.
A number of lawsuits are looking to change the way time is counted for part-time employees. These employees say that they meet the threshold if their “off-the-clock,” unpaid time is included.
We’ll discuss a specific case in our next post.
Source: Business Management Daily, “The two-headed monster waiting to trip you up,” Dec. 11, 2011