Your Rights If You Have To Miss Work From A Serious Illness

injured employee
Dealing with a serious illness comes with a slew of doctor’s appointments, medical treatments, bills, and much-needed recovery time. For employed people who suffer from a serious illness, also juggling work can cause anxiety about your career’s future and your income.

Know that when you suffer from a serious illness and need to miss work, you have rights that protect you.

What Constitutes A Serious Illness?

conflict between patient and doctor

Before understanding your rights around paid leave, it’s essential to distinguish if your illness is considered serious by the Federal government.

Your illness will be classified as serious if:

  • your treatment or recovery time requires an inpatient stay at a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility, meaning you need to stay overnight;
  • You are incapacitated from your illness for more than three calendar days requiring you to miss from work, school, or other regular daily activities that also involves continuing treatment by (or under the supervision of) a health care provider;
  • any period of incapacity due to pregnancy or for prenatal care;
  • any period of incapacity (or treatment) due to a severe chronic health condition, such as asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, etc.
  • a period of incapacity for an illness that is permanent or long-term due and treatment may not be effective, such as Alzheimer’s, stroke, or other terminal diseases;
  • any absences to receive multiple treatments and recover from said treatments for a condition that likely would result in incapacity of more than three consecutive days if left untreated. These treatments include chemotherapy, physical therapy, dialysis, and others.

What Rights Do I Have If I Have To Miss Work For A Serious Illness?

Many employers have paid sick time or paid time off to use if you’re suffering from an illness. However, that does expire and run out quickly.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects workers and allows them to take up to 12 weeks of time off to deal with an illness or family-related emergency. The FMLA protects you from being fired for being sick, from your employer denying your time off request, and receiving a demotion once you return to work.

However, the act’s coverage features many conditions. First, it does not promise paid time off. Some states have more comprehensive acts that offer paid-time-off, but federal law does not guarantee it.

You must also have worked full-time for your employer for at least one year to take advantage of the FMLA, and your employer must employ at least 50 people within 75 miles of where you work.

What Should I Do If I Need To Miss Work But Feel My Job Is In Jeopardy?

Navigating your company’s sick leave policy, the FMLA, and any state laws around sick leave can feel overwhelming while trying to recover from a serious illness. Call the legal team at Hyland, Padilla, & Fowler to help you navigate and understand your rights and fight for job security and pay.

We provide free, virtual consultations to discuss your rights and the potential for your case. Hyland, Padilla, & Fowler’s legal attorneys have represented thousands of workers and won millions of dollars for clients when they need it most.

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