Rivermate | Product owner - Andrew Simon

Global Work Glossary

What is medical leave of absence and how is it managed?

A medical leave of absence in the US is a crucial form of leave that allows employees to take extended time off work to address physical or mental health conditions, or to care for family members facing medical issues. Unlike other types of leave like sick leave or PTO, medical leave is specifically designated for unforeseen medical circumstances.

Eligibility for Medical Leave

Employees may qualify for medical leave for various reasons, including childbirth, adoption, caring for family members with serious health conditions, or facing personal health challenges. To be eligible under federal law, employees must meet specific criteria related to their tenure and hours worked.

Duration and Job Protection

Under the FMLA, eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period. Employers can require medical certification for leave requests and maintain job protection and health insurance coverage throughout the absence.

Payment for Medical Leave

Medical leave in the US is typically unpaid. However, employees may be eligible for disability benefits if their leave extends beyond a certain duration. Short-term disability covers leave under 12 months, while long-term disability extends beyond a year.

Employers with 50 or more employees must comply with FMLA regulations, ensuring that eligible employees receive medical leave. This requirement applies to both public agencies and private sector employers meeting the specified criteria.

Additional Time Off Benefits

Companies can offer medical leave alongside other time off benefits, such as paid parental leave. The specifics of leave policies should be clearly outlined in writing, following state laws, and incorporated into the employee handbook.

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