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Return dates can affect family and medical leave

Employees need to take family and medical leave for a variety of reasons. A father may need time to bond with a newborn baby daughter, or a mother may need time to take care of a sick son. Everyone who feels that they may need to take leave for some reason should become familiar with the laws and rules that govern the taking of leave. That way, they can make sure that they don't make mistakes that can jeopardize their time off.

One of the important things to know is that employees need to communicate their expected return date to their employer. That is necessary so the employer can know how long he or she needs to get the work covered by other people, and so that the employee's job will be there when he or she gets back. If there is ambiguity about the return date, the employer may find him- or herself facing more costs than expected, or the employee may find that his or her job is gone.

The Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of leave, does include allowing employees to return to their positions after taking leave covered by the FMLA. However, if the employee is unclear about his or her return date, the employer may presume that the employee will be gone for more than the 12 weeks allowed for by the FMLA. In that case, the employer may replace the employee. This has happened in some cases, resulting in legal action.

One way to make sure that you are following all the steps to take leave is to go over your rights and responsibilities with an experienced attorney. The attorney can let you know exactly what to do, so you can take the leave you need and still have a job to return to when it's over.

Source: NWI.com, "Do you need to specify a return date when on family or medical leave?" James Jorgensen, Jan. 10, 2015

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