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Does FMLA leave protect me from a layoff?

On Behalf of | Jun 26, 2024 | Employment Law For Employees

The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law that protects employees who need to take time off to care for themselves or family members for medical reasons or other approved reasons. Does this protection extend to layoffs?

When FMLA does offer protection

If you qualify for FMLA leave, it protects your job. This means that, upon the expiration of your leave time, you must be given the same job or an equivalent job. This protection applies as long as the employee can perform the essential functions of their job.

In Kentucky, as in all states, employers must adhere to federal FMLA regulations, which grant eligible employees unpaid leave with the right to reinstatement for specific reasons. Additionally, Kentucky state government offers enhanced Family Medical Leave benefits in some areas.

When FMLA does not offer protection

However, FMLA leave does not provide absolute protection against layoffs. If an employee would have been laid off regardless of their FMLA leave, the employer is still legally allowed to proceed with the layoff. However, the burden of proving this is on the employer. In other words, FMLA leave does not shield employees from actions that would have affected them if they were not on leave.

How to protect yourself while on FMLA leave

To protect yourself while on FMLA leave, ensure that you do not engage in activities that could be seen as misuse of the leave, such as traveling for non-medical reasons. Keep track of everything leading up to your FMLA leave, including positive performance reviews, medical documentation, etc.

This will help your case, should you be laid off while on FMLA or immediately upon your return. The key is having documentation to rebut that you would have been let go or laid off, even if you were not on FMLA leave.

While FMLA provides certain protections, it does not completely shield employees from layoffs. Understanding your rights under the FMLA and taking steps to protect yourself while on leave are crucial.