Running a local business means being a local employer. You probably value each of your staff members and rely on them to do their jobs properly. When someone has a medical emergency or family situation, they might ask your business for an extended leave of absence.
Even an unpaid leave could have dire consequences for the company. Many times, it would be more cost-effective to hire someone new to replace an employee rather than to keep their position vacant for up to 12 weeks or possibly longer. Do you have to approve requests for extended leave related to family or medical circumstances?
Is your business big enough to accommodate leave requests?
Most times when workers ask for unpaid leave question, what they want is believe guaranteed under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). All private-sector businesses who have had more than 50 employees for at least the last 20 weeks will likely have to comply with FMLA leave requests. If your business is smaller and has fewer staff members, you can potentially decline the request without consequence.
Does the employee have grounds to request unpaid leave?
If your business is subject to the FMLA due to how many people it employs, you can potentially deny a claim if the request doesn’t meet certain standards. Employees can ask for unpaid leave if they:
- Need medical care
- Have a new child (including an adopted or foster child)
- Need to care for a spouse, child or parent due to a medical condition
If your business is big enough for the FMLA to apply to you and if the worker’s situation falls under an approved reason for leave, you will likely have to allow them to take their leave of absence and then allow them to come back to work without any cut in pay or demotion as a result of their time off of work.
Knowing federal and state employment laws will make it easier for your company to make proper decisions regarding worker requests. An experienced attorney can help you.