Q Will I be able to take time off of work after I give birth, or can my employer fire me?
If you are eligible for the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), your employer cannot fire you. FMLA grants a certain amount of time for job-protected, benefits-protected, unpaid leave from work.
The Federal and Connecticut State eligibility requirements are different:
- Federal FMLA Requirements: The employee must have worked for at least one year, for at least 1,250 hours in that one-year period, and for an employer with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
- Connecticut FMLA Requirements: The employee must have worked for at least one year, for at least 1,000 hours in that one year, and for an employer with at least 75 employees within a 75-mile radius.
Connecticut's requirements may seem more stringent, but they also allow for a longer period of leave: federal law gives you 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave, while Connecticut law gives you 16 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave. So, if you meet Connecticut's requirements, you're in luck and will be granted four extra weeks off. If you do not meet Connecticut's requirements, you can still get federal FMLA if you are eligible for that.
However, those 12 weeks of federal FMLA are good for an entire 12-month period, while Connecticut's 16 weeks are good for a 24-month period. That means if you get pregnant again very soon after you give birth and you've used your full 16 weeks in Connecticut, you won't have any eligible time left for the second baby. If you're planning to have more children in that 24-month period, use your 16 weeks wisely.
Remember that those weeks you are allowed to take off of work are unpaid. It's not uncommon for an employer to require you to use any of your unused vacation or sick time while you're on FMLA leave, and this is legal. When you are able to go back to work, you are entitled to go back to your job. If your job is not available anymore, your employer has to give you a similar job with similar pay and benefits. However, if you go back to work and are no longer able to do the job you once did, your employer is not legally obligated to keep you employed within the company.
Things can get a little tricky when you're dealing with FMLA and pregnancy, so don't be afraid to ask for assistance.
If you feel that you have suffered job discrimination because of pregnancy, you may be eligible for compensation. Get a FREE legal consultation from the Bartinik Law Firm, P.C., by calling us at 888-717-4211 today.