FMLA in Florida

FMLA, or the Family Medical Leave Act, provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave throughout the United States, including Florida.

What Is Florida FMLA?

FMLA covers all states including Florida and provides up to 12 weeks of job protected leave for specified reasons, including medical and family needs. This unpaid leave also provides up to 26 weeks of Service Member family leave.

Why Is FMLA in Florida Important?

FMLA in Florida protects employers from losing benefits and their current position if they need to take leave for medical reasons or to care for a family member. The employee must provide medical verification or certification that the employee's presence is necessary to be eligible for leave. Some specific instances include the following:

  • Foster Care Placement of a Child
  • Care of Newborn Child Born to Spouse
  • Adoption

Applying for FMLA

The employee's healthcare provider must complete a certification form which validates the employee's serious health condition or that of an immediate family member. The employee must provide this certification to the employer within 15 calendar days of receiving it.

Employers must return the FMLA Notification form to the employee within two days of receiving the FMLA request.

An employee must prove they have a serious medical condition which involves continuous treatment or inpatient care verified by a health care provider. The health care provider must include the employee's position and description on the FMLA paperwork. A second or even third opinion may be requested by the employer. If a third opinion is necessary, the third medical professional must be agreed upon by both the employee and employer. Certification may also be requested during the leave or before returning to work.

Employees must provide advance leave notice to their employers as well as any medical certifications. Taking leave can be denied under the following conditions:

  • If the leave is foreseeable and the employee does not give 30 days advance notice, leave can be denied.
  • Employers can deny a request when the employee doesn't offer proper medical certification or does not get second or third opinions if requested. Third medical opinions must be paid for by the employer.
  • Employees can be denied the opportunity to return to work if they don't submit a fitness for duty report.

Legal Implications of Florida FMLA

The U.S. Department of Labor typically investigates and resolves complaints against employers for FMLA violations. Employees may take civil action for violations. Any Florida state law prohibiting discrimination is not affected by FMLA. Furthermore, FMLA does not affect federal, state, or local laws that provide greater leave rights.

If an employer violates FMLA, the following remedies are provided, limited to 12 weeks:

  • Wages
  • Employment Benefits
  • Denied or Lost Compensation
  • Actual Monetary Loss
  • Other Damages
  • Attorney Fees
  • Expert Witness Fees

Florida Domestic Violence Leave

When an employer has at least 50 employees, the employer must allow eligible employees to take three days in a 12-month period as victims of domestic or sexual violence. Employees are also eligible for leave if a family member is a victim of domestic or sexual violence.

This leave provides for the victim or family member of the victim to take leave to do the following:

  • Seek an injunction
  • Receive medical care or counseling
  • Receive services from a rights group, rape crisis center, or shelter
  • Relocate or secure the current home
  • Seek or obtain legal assistance

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