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Employee rights during FMLA leave

Many employees of covered Pennsylvania companies have the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off for a family or medical issue. According to the Family and Medical Leave Act, employers cannot prevent employees from taking leave or interfere with their decision to take it. Employers cannot fire workers for taking FMLA leave, and they must reinstate workers in the same position or an equivalent one once they return to work.

Typically, the human resources department of a company handles FMLA leave cases. Managers also have responsibilities to ensure that employees who are eligible for FMLA leave are not discriminated against for availing themselves of it. Once an employee decides to take leave, a manager should plan for the employee's reentry.

It is not always possible for employees to reenter the same position that they were in before they took FMLA leave. A manager may discuss reentry options with an employee before leave begins so that the employee knows what to expect upon return. Though an employee does not have to stay involved with work while on leave, some employees may choose to accept work-related phone calls and emails or come into work if there is an emergency during their leave of absence.

An employer that violates the Family and Medical Leave Act may be sued for discrimination. FMLA discrimination by an employer could occur when an employer strongly discourages a worker from taking leave, fires an employee who is considering taking leave or requires an employee to cut the leave short. An employee who has been discriminated against for taking leave may want to talk to an employment law attorney to see what options are available.

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