When you have used all your available paid time off and Family and Medical Leave Act eligibility for the year, you may be able to convince your employer to grant you a leave of absence and this absence may be a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Some companies and agencies spell out a precise process to follow when requesting and taking a leave of absence. Checking for such guidelines should always be the first step.
Because employers are not required to allow workers to take unpaid time off beyond what the FMLA dictates, most will only do so when a valued employee asks properly and complies with strict conditions. If the leave is related to a physical or mental impairment that constitutes a disability under the ADA, your employer may have to accommodate the leave request. If you have any questions, you should speak with an employment rights lawyer who handles disability discrimination cases.
If you find yourself in need of a leave of absence for any personal or family reason and your employer does not have a written policy, follow these four steps.
Plan as Far Ahead as Possible
You should know when you are approaching the end of your available paid and FMLA leave. Do not spring the fact that you have additional need for time off on your manager and supervisor. Since even companies and agencies that have explicit policies on extended and intermittent leaves of absence allow team leaders to reject requests, you should give as much advance notice as possible.
Document Your Need for Unpaid Time Off
Share doctors’ notes or other relevant information with your manager and supervisor. They will be more likely to grant you a leave of absence when they understand how much you need the time off to attend to your own health or to care for an ailing family member.
Keep Track of Your Time Away from Work
This is especially important when you take a leave of absence in increments of days or hours. Even if you are not an hourly employee, you should be able to fully account for all the time you spend on the job and all the time you take as unpaid time off.
Stay in Communication with Your Co-Workers, Manager, and Supervisor
Talk and email regularly with team members and team leaders about your schedule, completed and ongoing assignments, and how to get in touch with you when you are at home or elsewhere.
Matthew Coffman of Coffman Legal handles all types of employment law cases in Columbus, Ohio. If you have questions about FMLA leave or other employee benefits, schedule a confidential consultation by connecting with him online or calling him at (614) 949-1181.