What Happens to my Job Status if I Take FMLA Leave?

What Happens to my Job Status if I Take FMLA Leave?

Greg Mansell

Greg Mansell

November 22, 2019 09:52 AM

So you tell your employer you need time off work because of a medical condition and your employer provides you Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) paperwork for your doctor to fill out. Your doctor sends in the paperwork with an estimated return to work date. Are you guaranteed your same job back? Our Ohio FMLA Lawyers provide all the answers on your right to reinstatement after taking protected leave under the FMLA.

Typically, an employee is entitled to reinstatement to his or her same position or to an equivalent position upon return from an FMLA-qualifying leave that does not exceed the maximum 12-week allotment. The right to reinstatement exists even if, while the employee was on FMLA leave, the employer replaced the employee or restructured the position due to the employee’s absence.

What is considered an equivalent position?

If the employee is not returned to his or her same position following his or her FMLA leave, the employer must place the employee in an “equivalent position.” This is defined as a position that is nearly identical to the employee’s former position in terms of pay, benefits, and working conditions, including privileges, prerequisites and status. The new position must entail the same or substantially similar duties and responsibilities requiring the same skill, effort, responsibility and authority.

Typically, the employee must have the same opportunity to earn overtime, bonuses, profit-sharing, or other similar opportunities for payments beyond the employee’s regular rate of pay.

If the employee’s worksite is no longer available, the employee must be placed at a geographically similar worksite that will not significantly increase the employee’s commute in time or in distance. If an employee’s worksite has changed or closed, the employee must be afforded the same rights as those employees whose jobs were also impacted by the change in worksite.

What about pay and benefits while on FMLA leave?

Employees are entitled to nondiscretionary pay increases that may have occurred while the employee was on FMLA leave, such as company-wide cost of living pay increases. An employer is also required to pay the employee bonus payments (whether discretionary or non-discretionary) that occurred while he or she was on FMLA leave. However, if the bonus payments are conditioned upon achieving a specific goal, such as hours worked, attendance, or sales, and the employee did not reach the goal due to the time spent on FMLA leave, the employer is not obligated to make the bonus payment—as long as this practice is consistent for all employees who take leaves of absence, whether FMLA-related or not.

Upon a return from FMLA leave, an employee’s benefits must be resumed in the same manner they were when the employee went on leave, assuming there were no company-wide changes to the company’s policies. Employers are not required to (but may) allow employees to accrue any additional benefits or seniority during their FMLA leave. However, benefits already accrued before the employee takes leave (such as vacation days or PTO if not used concurrently with FMLA) must be available to the employee upon his or her return from FMLA leave.

What if my Return-to-Work date changes, either earlier or later?

If your return to work date changes, you need to notify your employer as soon as practicable.

If your return to work date is earlier, then you need to provide your employer the documentation required by them (See your company handbook for what is required), which may include a fitness for duty report from your doctor. After providing your employer the proper paperwork, your employer must return you to your position or an equivalent position within 2 business days.

If your return to work date is later, you need to have your doctor fill out new FMLA paperwork that extends your return to work date. You need to get this paperwork filled out and returned to your employer as soon as possible after finding out that your return to work date will be extended. It is important to be aware of how much FMLA time you have taken up to that point. You only get 12 weeks in a year!

Each situation raises different issues, and a review of the specific facts of your situation will be necessary to determine if a violation of the FMLA has occurred. If you believe that your rights under the FMLA have been violated, please reach out for more information and set up a free consultation with one of our FMLA attorneys in Columbus, Ohio.

Mansell Law, LLC

Employment Attorneys in Columbus, Ohio

For The Employee

Related Articles

New England States With Incoming Legislation

by Gregory Sirico

Best Lawyers takes an in depth look at newly proposed bills, litigation and cases coming out of four New England states.

New England Laws Taking Effect in 2022

Trending Articles

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in America Honorees

by Best Lawyers

Only the top 5.3% of all practicing lawyers in the U.S. were selected by their peers for inclusion in the 29th edition of The Best Lawyers in America®.

Gold strings and dots connecting to form US map

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in Canada Honorees

by Best Lawyers

The Best Lawyers in Canada™ is entering its 17th edition for 2023. We highlight the elite lawyers awarded this year.

Red map of Canada with white lines and dots

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2023

by Best Lawyers

The third edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America™ highlights the legal talent of lawyers who have been in practice less than 10 years.

Three arrows made of lines and dots on blue background

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Canada 2023

by Best Lawyers

The year 2023 marks the second edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Canada, highlighting professionals earlier in their legal careers all across Canada.

Blue background with white stairs formed out of lines

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers® in the United States

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers listed in the 28th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America® and in the 2nd Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2022.

2022 Best Lawyers Listings for United States

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers in Canada™

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers listed in the 16th Edition of The Best Lawyers in Canada™ and 1st Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Canada.

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers in Canada™

All Eyes to the Ones on the Rise

by Rebecca Blackwell

Our 2023 honorees recognized in Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America™ tell us more about how their path to law formed, what lead them to their practice areas and how they keep steadfast in their passion to serve others.

Person walking between glass walls towards window

Famous Songs Unprotected by Copyright Could Mean Royalties for Some

by Michael B. Fein

A guide to navigating copyright claims on famous songs.

Can I Sing "Happy Birthday" in Public?

Choosing a Title Company: What a Seller Should Expect

by Roy D. Oppenheim

When it comes to choosing a title company, how much power exactly does a seller have?

Choosing the Title Company As Seller

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch – The Future of Legal Talent Looks Bright

by Justin Smulison

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch is launching its second edition in the United States, and after talking with both a company leader and esteemed lawyers on the list, the importance of this prestigious list is evident.

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America 2022

Press and Publicity: How Television and Social Media Impact Legal Careers

by Justin Smulison

In recent years, with social media giving minute by minute reporting, many lawyers are finding themselves thrust into a spotlight they never planned for. How are lawyers grappling with unexpected stardom, media coverage and merciless influencers?

Close up of camera at news station

What the Courts Say About Recording in the Classroom

by Christina Henagen Peer and Peter Zawadski

Students and parents are increasingly asking to use audio devices to record what's being said in the classroom. But is it legal? A recent ruling offer gives the answer to a question confusing parents and administrators alike.

Is It Legal for Students to Record Teachers?

Announcing the 2022 "Best Law Firms" Rankings

by Best Lawyers

The 2022 “Best Law Firms” publication includes all “Law Firm of the Year” recipients, national and metro Tier 1 ranked firms and editorial from thought leaders in the legal industry.

The 2022 Best Law Firms Awards

The Real Camille: An Interview with Johnny Depp’s Lawyer Camille Vasquez

by Rebecca Blackwell

Camille Vasquez, a young lawyer at Brown Rudnick, sat down with Best Lawyers CEO Phillip Greer to talk about her distinguished career, recently being named partner and what comes next for her.

Camille Vasquez in office

Caffeine Overload and DUI Tests

by Daniel Taylor

While it might come as a surprise, the over-consumption of caffeine could trigger a false positive on a breathalyzer test.

Can Caffeine Cause You to Fail DUI Test?

Protecting Small Business Owners: Trial Experts Connick Law LLC Notoriously Successful with Fire Litigation

by Justin Smulison

When small business owners become the target of insurance companies in fire-related lawsuits, hiring a firm with a reputation for understanding the science of fire suppression trials can save their livelihoods.

Gold Indoor Sprinkler Heads on Red Background